Circular Design redesigns products to prolong life, minimize waste and potential loss of technical (man-made) materials. This means company’s can design a product that has certain functionalities to ensure components can be reused, materials can be reprocessed and breakages can be repaired. Here are some examples of how designers and entrepreneurs develop and exploit goods, helping reduce material (natural and man-made resources) and energy consumption over time¹.
1. Design for Product Attachment and Trust
Creating products that will be loved, liked or trusted longer
2. Design for Product Durability
Developing products that can take wear and tear without breaking down
3. Design for Standardization & Compatibility
Creating products with parts or interfaces that fit other products as well
4. Design for Ease of maintenance and Repair
Enabling products to be maintained in tip-top condition
5. Design for Upgradability & Adaptability
Allowing for future expansion and modification
6. Design for Dis- and Reassembly
Ensuring products and parts can be separated and reassembled easily
Life Cycle Assessment
Circular Design + Circular Business
The aim of good design is, hopefully, destined for use in our everyday lives. Traditionally products were designed for sale in our old linear economic systems where they were simply products to be used and then discarded at end-of-life. As we move into Circular systems, design now takes on a whole new relationship with business. The design of products has the potential to become the business model.
In the opposite Business Model diagram Circular design principles can be included into almost every stage.
1. In the early stages of product design, the focus is on how durable, repairable, and how easy it is to dis- and reassembly and upgrade.
2. During the manufacturing process, raw materials can include materials recovered for reprocessing through recycling collection systems or returned via reverse logistics.
3. The value proposition of the product to the customer (ease of repair, durable, take-back incentive, etc) can be communicated via a company’s sales and marketing efforts.
The Guidelines for Design
In order to describe a circular product design framework a set of definitions needed to be developed that are all inclusive, fully applicable to product design and with a single interpretation of the terminology used². The Butterfly diagram (opposite) has been adapted from the original Butterfly diagram to be more reflective for Circular Product Design Modelling (Click on the image or text to expand the Circular Product Design Butterfly Diagram).
All the components of the Circular Product Design Model is explained in the Table below.
|Future Proof||Last long||- Performance
|Use long||- Roadmap fit
- Timeless design
- Anticipate legislation (e.g toxicity, disassembly time)
||Connections||- Quick and easy disconnect
- Limit use and diversity of fasteners
- Limit use and diversity of tools
|Product architecture||- Simplify product architecture
- Allow ease of access to components
- Clarity of disassemble sequence
|Maintenance||Maintenance||- Ease of cleaning
- Ease of repair / upgrade
- Allow onsite repair and upgrade
|Lifetime prognostics||Online monitoring for quality, testing, maintenance and billing|
|Remake||Modularity||- Use modular components
- Standardize interface
- Back- & Forwards compatability
|Reliability assessment||- Allow for easy read out of components|
|(Reverse) Logistics||- Product can easily be returned
- Spare part harvesting
- Local production
|Recycle||Materials||- Avoid the use of (non-compliant) coatings
- Limit the number of different materials
- Only use materials that can be recycled
- Use preferred / pure materials
|Electronics||- Get PCB out in one piece
- Easy/fast detection of materials
- Use SMD components
|Connections||- Avoid fixed connections
- Break down by (shredding / disassembly) to:
-- Pieces of uniform composition
-- Pieces of relatively large size (>1cm)
2. “A Product Design Framework for a Circular Economy’ by van den Berg M.R. and Bakker C.A.