The design phase presents the most significant opportunity to make a positive impact on a product’s ecological footprint. By incorpo-rating circular principles into product and production process design, businesses can effectively and easily reduce their environmental impact during the idea and development phase. Unlike traditional manufacturing, which tends to focus solely on the end user, circular design takes a holistic approach that considers all stakeholders involved in the product life cycle. This includes everyone from raw material suppliers and manufacturers to end users and disposal/recycling entities. By taking this approach, circular design creates new values and enhances resource efficiency. In this section, we showcase examples and provide guidelines on how businesses can design products that are repairable, upgradable, and recyclable, while also having an extended lifespan.
Circular Business Models
The business models of the future are based on us consuming less, not more. The prerequisites for sustainable business models vary between industries. Therefore, it is important to consider the needs for different solutions and models depending on which materials companies use and whether they offer products or services. From a business perspective, circular economy can bring significant savings and new business opportunities. Smart solutions and digitalization are central parts. A circular business model also needs to be economically viable. In a linear model companies can only charge once, while in a circular model companies may have several revenue streams at different steps.
Sustainable Product Development
Companies within the manufacturing fields and especially product development will have to figure out new requirements for their products. These include how to increase their performance and efficiency within production, how the products can be maintained and repaired, how the different parts can be recycled at the end of their life cycle and how the life cycle can be extended with updates, components and softwares. Choices regarding materials play a central role in the transition towards circular economy and the digital product passport, designed by the EU, is a significant leap towards the manufacturing of sustainable products. The passport gathers information of any given product. Through a barcode or QR code consumers can get information about their products repair, recycling, and material origins. The passport could also include other useful data, such as carbon footprint calculations.