The circular design encourages us to rethink business models, how we make products, and to consider the system surrounding them. Still, we also need to rethink the materials we use, whether improving the usage and lifecycle or ensuring that resources can be used longer.
- Mapping out the journey of the material from source to use, identifying areas in which material health may be an influencing product circularity;
- Understanding the impacts of materials choices at each product lifecycle stage;
- Exploring how material health issues may be addressed in the circular design and supply chain;
Not all materials and products are fit for a circular economy. Some contain dangerous chemicals for the environment, like additives that are often unintentionally used or used for performance reasons - such as coloring, flexibility, or durability - but we need to find new ways to design them out.
In a circular economy, renewable, recycled, or highly recyclable inputs will be used in production processes – enabling partial or total elimination of waste and pollution.
Circular-designed products don't expire. Instead, they become the end-of-current-usage loop. They also profit from high material and components recovery rates in initial quality and increased material flow management.
Designing products for repairability, upgradability, reusability, ease of disassembly, reconditioning, and recyclability of all components.
By choosing safe and circular materials, we can build a better offering for users while ensuring that the products and services are created to fit within a circular economy.
When choosing circular materials, it is essential to explore the implications of material options at each phase of its lifecycle: during production, the use phase, the after-use phase, and when bringing materials back into the system.
To effectively design a product for ongoing cycles, it’s important to consider the impact of material choices across each of these lifecycle stages.
The chemicals and materials used throughout the product lifecycle matter because they can pose risks to humans and the environment. Developing an awareness of these risks is the first step toward designing things differently.
Adapting the Economy
For many companies in the linear economy, shifting to a circular economy will be just as difficult as the brick-and-mortar transition to a digital environment.
We will see many entities, unable to adapt, fail against circular business models that offer:
- Lower costs;
- Recurrent income sources throughout the usage cycles;
- Climate-friendly and attractive products;
- Higher customer centricity;
- Increased resilience due to better control of material flow;
Quitting existing competitive edges, restructuring essential assets, changing well-functioning supply chains, and investing in circular business models, are crucial to surviving in ten years.