What are the aims of circular design in a product or service?
1. Ultimately it should meet the needs of the user
2. Produce zero waste throughout its life cycle
3. Be fully recyclable into the same value materials again or fully compostable
Why should we implement circular design and manufacturing in packaging?
Despite its widespread use in various industries, plastic packaging has come under significant criticism for its negative impact on the environment and its slow degradation process without full decomposition. Hence, it falls short of being a circular solution.In contrast, Adidas has innovated and implemented an alternative packaging called "mushroom packaging”. This is crafted entirely from naturally occurring fungus (100% mycelium). After its use, this packaging can be composted and returned to the environment, promoting sustainability. Additionally, its ink-free design ensures maximum compostability. Moreover, this packaging has the potential for reuse in future products, further enhancing its eco-friendly attributes.
Which companies are circular design pioneers?
- Allbirds - Trainers using plants
- Levi’s - Circular jeans using 100% natural fibres
- IKEA - Modular furniture that can be disassembled
What was the circular strategy implemented by Allbirds with their shoes?
The traditional athletic footwear industry predominantly manufactures products derived from fossil fuels. Allbirds wanted to create a shoe which would leave no trace at all. Allbirds created a shoe with a mix of natural materials like wool, sugarcane and trees. The only part of the shoes that is not 100% circular are the laces, made from recycled plastic bottles. However, as the laces can be removed easily, the main part of the shoe can still return to nature once industrially composted. The laces can separately be reused again or recycled into new laces or other plastic products. The key to allbirds’ strategy was to focus on aligning their values with their customers’ values, spend considerably less on their marketing and achieve rapid growth.
How can circular principles be applied in manufacturing of diamonds?
The mining processes used to extract traditional diamonds cause significant land degradation and require vast amounts of water and energy. The emergence of lab grown diamonds shows how circular design principles can be applied to the manufacturing process. Lab grown diamonds are produced using renewable energy in a lab and hence, doesn’t result in land degradation or pollution. Additionally, it simplifies the supply chain and reduces associated transportation costs and emissions. They are also free from ethical violations that traditional diamonds are associated with. Overall you are able to produce a near flawless diamond in a lab which has a lower emission and better circularity profile.
What are circular business models?
Circular business models are those that promote the circular economy and typically enable people to rent, repair, re-sell and recycle.
Some examples across different industries are:
- In the fashion industry - eBay, Vinted, Depop and The Seam allow reselling of clothes (and other items in the case of eBay).
- Subscription and rental services for products are also considered circular - By Rotation, the HURR Collective and Hirestreet enable people to rent clothing from others.
- Patagonia enables customers to purchase second-hand Patagonia clothing and provide free repairs for items to keep products in circulation for longer.
- Used car dealers such as Cazoo and Auto Trader that allow people to sell their existing cars thereby keeping the products in the loop.
Why do we need circular recycling technology?
We have not yet created enough circular end-of-life businesses/products globally. Hence we need to invest in recycling technology to ensure we limit landfilling. E-waste is one of the most important areas to address. This is due to precious metals and resources they use which are finite. Currently, we send these resources into landfill without extracting them.
A lot of these metals are also mined with poor environmental practices which leads to degradation of the mining sites and surrounding areas, pollution as well as poor safety standards for those working on the sites. A string of new businesses and local authorities are trying to address this issue by collecting old products, deconstructing them into their constituent parts and selling on the valuable, finite materials onto third parties to be reused again in products.