The design sits prominently at the heart of the circular economy.

The future economy requires us to redesign everything: products, business models, cities, and the linear systems that have lasted for centuries.

This blog covers 14 design principles ready to be incorporated into your design flow to sustain the transition to a circular economy.

Reduce Materials

  • Apply patterns to reduce material use;
  • Reduce product proportions without compromising the accessibility of components;
  • Avoid extra features without functionality;
  • Reduce interfaces between components;
  • Design for a minimum distance of wires and cables;
  • Shift from using scarce materials to renewable, bio-based options'
  • Use high-quality materials for a bigger lifespan;

Digital Twin-Based Product Design

  • Collect data about your product at every usage stage;
  • Track user behavior data to improve product performance and experience;
  • Register technical product performance to improve design flow;
  • Incorporate systems to monitor deterioration components and energy use;
  • Identify heavy emission components to improve circular design decisions;

Enable Functional Product Assessment


  • Use standardized materials identification and audit systems;
  • Arrange material identification in visible places;
  • Avoid unnecessary stickers and other identification marks;


Retrieve Product

  • Create manuals or tutorials for testing and inspection available;
  • Make inspection points and tests of components easily accessible;
  • Use standardized features across generations and products;
  • Include sensors to check the repairability level without needing to disassemble or clean the product first;
  • Add indications to show the lifecycle and usage stages;


Enable Easy Cleaning

  • Make the cleanable surfaces smooth and wear-resistant;
  • Standardize the cleaning process, substances, temperatures, detergents, and cleaning tools;
  • Eliminate in the designing process hard-to-clean areas;


Recycling-Ready Cleaning

  • Avoid irremovable coating materials;
  • Priorities dyeing of internal polymers rather than surface painting;

Accessibility of Critical Components

Critical Components

  • Identify critical components exposed to stress, wear, rust, break, or failure to make sure quick access to repair or change;
  • Enable disassembly or recharging of consumable components;



  • Mark properly the upgradable or rechargeable components;
  • Ensure the guidelines and tutorials needed for customers;

Design For Disassembly

Joints and connectors

  • Minimize the number of joints and connectors;
  • Use standardized joints and connectors to enable quick changes;
  • Promote latches and reversible snap-fits;
  • Avoid fixed joints and connectors;
  • Use nails and screws with the same metrics;
  • Replace soldered connectors with plug-in connectors;
  • Minimize hierarchically dependent connections between components;
  • Design accessible and recognizable entrances with geometric locking for disassembling;


Product structure

  • Design for damage-free disassembly;
  • Promote product design modularly and minimize the number of components;
  • Create disassembly flow for customers, after-services providers, and recyclers;
  • Minimize sideways directions in the disassembly flow of parts and materials;
  • Design for multiple detachments with one operation;
  • Prioritize the disassembly of parts or materials with higher economic value;

Use Renewable Materials

  • Promote renewable materials;
  • Reduce the use of scarce renewable materials;
  • Avoid using non-degradable materials in compostable products;

Use Recyclable Materials

  • Include recyclable materials in the design flow;
  • Choose materials with a high recycling rate;
  • Choose compatible fabrics with easy-to-separate components to increase the recycling rate;
  • Select fewer types of materials and increase the homogeneity of materials;
  • Avoid additives and coatings;
  • Use materials compatible between joint components to avoid their separation before recycling;
  • Exclude additional materials for marking or codification;
  • Avoid adhesives or choose ones that comply with materials to be recycled;
  • Prefer heat-proof thermoplastic polymers to fireproof additives;
  • Exclude metal insertions from plastic parts;

Use Secondary Materials

  • Reduce the use of virgin raw materials and increase the use of recovered/recycled material;
  • Use materials previously designated as waste, such as re-mining from a landfill or using ocean plastic restorative sourcing;
  • Leverage residual materials from production processes for industrial symbiosis;

Hazardous And Harmful Materials

  • Identity existence threads to environment and users;
  • Select materials that comply with the legislations and regulations of hazardous materials and chemicals;
  • Eliminate toxic or dangerous materials;

Materials With High Environmental Impact

Material extraction

  • Avoid materials with a high environmental impact during materials extraction;



  • Avoid materials with a high environmental impact during the production;
  • Choose fabrics that do not require extra surface treatment and avoid cyanide and hexavalent chromium;
  • Select light materials for less energy consumption in transportation;



  • Avoid materials with a high environmental impact during usage
  • Include sustainability analytics platforms to support customers' decisions;
  • Create tutorials and showcase information about product health and usage management for durability;



  • Avoid materials with a high environmental impact during incineration;
  • Choose materials with high embodied energy to help the energy recovery process throughout combustion;

Design For Durability


  • Select quality, strong, robust, and durable materials according to the product lifespan and use case;
  • Avoid materials that might lose strength, get brittle, or get discolored over time;


Select Adequate Materials

  • Avoid selecting durable materials for temporary products or components;


Product structure

  • Reuse reliable components and materials from other generations or products;
  • Components subject to stress, wear, corrode, stain, break or fail easily should be avoided, minimized, or made particularly resistant;
  • Identity components expected to be replaced;
  • Make the lifespan of selected components recognizable with visual indicators or sensors;


Reduce product complexity

  • Eliminate week connectors and joins;
  • Reduce the overall number of components;
  • Decrease interfaces between components;


Design for multiple cycles

  • Predict product life cycles and durable lifetime by creating a digital twin;
  • Select components with the same durability and lifespan;


Use phase

  • Promote the use of the product under the indented conditions to avoid breakdown so the product can move to the next lifecycle;
  • Ensure all components can comply with the same conditions in the use phase;

Design For Modularity

Modular Design subdivides a system into smaller parts called modules, which can be independently created, modified, replaced, or exchanged between different systems.

Identify modules

  • Locate unrecyclable components and materials and unify them in one module to be easily removed;
  • Locate materials with a certain recycling method and unify them in one module to ease recycling;
  • Locate parts that are subject to stress, wear, rust, stain, break or fail and unify them in one module;
  • Locate parts with a high cost and unify them in one module;

Reduce Energy And Resources In Use

  • Use components with efficient energy use;
  • Provide how-to-use manuals and procedures for more efficient and effective use of the product;
  • Program product's default state at minimal energy consumption;
  • Make a standby function. Preferably an automatic turn-off function;

Design For Future Functions And Performance

Design And Customer Experience

  • Focus on simplicity and functionality makes to product attractive for a longer time;
  • Enable product customization to meet customer demands;
  • Request feedback and improve the product based on customer usage;
  • Predict markets and future trends to stay competitive without significant changes over time;

Functional-Based Approach

  • Focus on the reliability and quality of the product function to nurture a user commitment and encourage repair rather than replacement of the product;
  • Consider future product performance and future product functions;
  • Predict updates flow and the impact on the product;
  • Use materials and components that will be available in the future;