Circularity strategies

Conceptually, circular design is not directly based on a traditional life-cycle approach. In that sense, strategies for circular design are slightly different from those of ecodesign. However, when comparing ecodesign strategies and circular design approaches (Figure 12.4), some similarities are found. While ‘refuse/rethink’ circular approaches are aligned with the “new concept development" ecodesign strategies, ‘reuse/repair/refurbish’ could be related to ‘optimisation of lifetime’ and ‘remanufacture/ repurpose/recycle/recover’ to ‘optimisation of end-of-life.' Despite the fact that this can be used as a reference, other strategies seem to be more useful for circular design by conception.

Long-lasting

Long-lasting strategies allow products or materials to be kept for as long as possible in the system. In that sense, design is focused on increasing the use of products by durability approaches but also by easing repair and maintenance. These strategies are like those for environmentally based strategies focused on lifetime optimisation. The most difficult issue under this topic is to design for emotional durability, where products should avoid obsolescence through user love, trust, and added value.

Loop-lasting

For the loop-lasting strategy, issues related to the fact that a product finishes its life for a user are considered. Then, the product enters a new loop: to be reused, repaired, and so on until it ends in recovering. Actions here rely on design for recyclability but also for refurbishing, repurposing, and cascading with other users. This strategy meets both the ecodesign strategies on lifetime and end-of-life optimisation.

Bioinspired/biobased

For the bioinspired/biobased the techno-cycle meets the bio-cycle by adopting biomimetic, bionic, and/or nature-based solutions or using resources coming from/ending in renewable loops. This circular strategy could be focused on selecting lower-impact materials but also on the end of life for the bio-cycle (EMF, n.d.).

Conclusions

Strategies dedicated to ecodesign are well known. Some circular design strategies can fit on those based on ecodesign. However, others seem contrary to environmental aspects and ecodesign. Improving the durability of a product could involve, for instance, making it thicker. On the other hand, ecodesign would suggest making it thinner to use fewer materials. In that sense, the aim of the design should be defined clearly to ensure that the assessment of the improvements will be aligned.

Environmental assessment tools are also widely utilised for ecodesign. Product circularity evaluation is still not fully defined. Some proposals are ongoing; for example, ISO-level standards are being developed. Meanwhile, partial or business-based approaches exist for measuring the circularity of products but not for the product itself.

References

CEGESTI (1999). Manual para la implementacion tie ecodiserio en centroamérica. San José: CEGESTI, Marcel Crul y Jan Carel Diehl, C.R. 183pp. ISBN:9968-9821-2-1.

Ceschin F. (2016). Evolution of design for sustainability: from product design to design for system innovations and transitions. Design Studies. 47: 118—163.

EC (2009). Directive 2009/125/EC of the European parliament and of the council of 21 October 2009 establishing a framework for the setting of ecodesign requirements for energy-related products. OJL. 285.

EC (2015). Closing the loop — an EU action plan for the circular economy. Communication from the Commission to the European, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions, Brussels.

EC (2017). Regulation (EU) 2017/1369 of the European parliament and of the council of 4 July 2017 setting a framework for energy labelling and repealing directive 2010/30/EU. OJL. 198: 1-23.

EC (2019). Lite circular economy action plan. Report from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions, Brussels, Belgium.

EMF (Ellen MacArthur Foundation) (2015). Material circularity indicator — assessment tool for companies to improve product design and material procurement. Cowes: Ellen Macarthur Foundation.

EMF (Ellen MacArthur Foundation) (2020). Circulytics — measuring circularity. Cowes: Ellen Macarthur Foundation.

EMF (Ellen MacArthur Foundation) (n.d.). Circular economy system diagram. Available at: www.ellenmacar-thurfoundation.org/circular-economy/concept/infographic

InEDIC (2011). Ecodesign manual. InEDIC — Innovation and Ecodesign in the Ceramic Industry, https:// www.scnbd.com/document/267599466/Inedic-Manual-En-lnnovation-and-Ecodesign-in-the-Ceramic-Industry

ISO (2006). 14040. Environmental management — life cycle assessment — principles and framework. Geneva, Switzerland: International Organization for Standardization.

ISO (2015). 14001. Environmental management systems — requirements with guidance for use. Geneva, Switzerland: International Organization for Standardization.

ISO (2020). 14006. Environmental management systems: guidelines for incorporating ecodesign. Geneva, Switzerland: International Organization for Standardization.

 
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