What is innovative product design in a circular economy?

What is innovative product design in a circular economy?

Bugaboo is a company that successfully uses ‘circular product design strategies’. Their products are built to last, fully modular and easy to repair. On the business side, they also offer ‘leasing models’. Ready to find out how to design products for a circular economy?

How to transform from linear to circular design?

Our model of consumption is changing... In a linear economy, products would lose their value and be discarded after use. However, In a circular model, they keep their value. Circular design takes the whole product lifecycle in account. As designers, we aim to prolong the product life, and think about what will happen after the product is used. In this way of thinking, the product’s lifecycle is circular instead of a linear. Linear business models dispose the products at the end of their use, circular models make sure the product gets back to producers and they use it again in the production cycle.

What is sustainable design?

Limited resources and more corporate responsibility are the driving forces behind this new way of thinking that aims to create more value using less material and energy. Sustainable development and ecological design are the new drivers in innovation and responsible business growth has to take these new shifts into account in order to be successful in the future.

What are the ‘circular product design strategies’?

Different product design strategies can be used to evolve from linear to circular business models and products. Products can be designed to fit the new ‘circular’ way of thinking.

1. First and foremost, products should be designed in a way that prolongs the actual product use. Strategies like ‘emotional’ attachment, solid durable quality can help to keep a product alive for a lifetime.

 
 The classic italian ‘Bialetti Moka Express’ is a product that is built to last, accompanying you for ages.  (image source: https://www.thehomewarescompany.com/catalog/product/view/_ignore_category/1/id/5891/s/bialetti-moka-espresso-maker-12-cup/)

The classic italian ‘Bialetti Moka Express’ is a product that is built to last, accompanying you for ages.

(image source: https://www.thehomewarescompany.com/catalog/product/view/_ignore_category/1/id/5891/s/bialetti-moka-espresso-maker-12-cup/)

 

2. When products get discarded, they should be able to be re-used by a new user. They should be easily cleaned and ‘usage damage’ should be kept to a minimum.

 
 Outdoor brand Patagonia has its own second-hand shop for their own used apparel.  (image source: https://www.highsnobiety.com/2017/10/17/patagonia-worn-wear-program/)

Outdoor brand Patagonia has its own second-hand shop for their own used apparel.

(image source: https://www.highsnobiety.com/2017/10/17/patagonia-worn-wear-program/)

 

3. The next step is to design a product in such a way that it can be easily refurbished or remanufactured. Design for easy disassembly is such a product design strategy. Components should be able to be updated for newer ones. Modularity improves this way of replacing and/or adding components.

 
 Miele uses recognised repair stores and its own on-route repair service.  (image source: https://www.miele.co.uk/domestic/repair-277.htm)

Miele uses recognised repair stores and its own on-route repair service.

(image source: https://www.miele.co.uk/domestic/repair-277.htm)

 

4. The last possible option is that products get recycled, and their materials are used for new products. The products therefore should be constructed in a way that materials are easily separated.

 
 Antwerp based ‘Ecobirdy’ collects and recycles toys to turn them into new kid’s furniture.  (image source: https://www.designboom.com/design/ecobirdy-recycled-toys-furniture-01-21-2018/)

Antwerp based ‘Ecobirdy’ collects and recycles toys to turn them into new kid’s furniture.

(image source: https://www.designboom.com/design/ecobirdy-recycled-toys-furniture-01-21-2018/)

 

To conclude, the circular concept aims for closed loop systems. Circular design innovation could be done in many ways: on a product level, as a service, as a business model,... There are numerous ways of implementing the circular way of thinking in your business strategy!

 
What is the new product development process? From idea to product.

What is the new product development process? From idea to product.