Videos

The evolution of design thinking

Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO, explains how the design process is evolving to support the circular economy.

The power of feedback mechanisms

Tim Brown on why embedding feedback into your design is crucial for the circular economy.

Adopting a systems mindset

When designing for the circular economy, we need to get comfortable with the idea of zooming in and out.

Design for the circular economy

Tim Brown explains the circular economy and why designers need to get involved.

Find your circular opportunity

Designer Karoline Kirchhübel explains how to get started with the method 'circular opportunities'.

Get started with the Circular Design Guide

Tips for getting going with the guide.

Expanded user-centredness

Tim Brown makes the case for a new way of looking at users and stakeholders.

Worksheets

Case studies

Ben and Jerry’s

Great brownies with a greater mission

The brownies in Ben & Jerry’s ice cream are made in a bakery that provides jobs and training to low-income residents of its local neighbourhood in New York. Photo credit: Mindmatrix

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Tesla (Org)

Aligning personal and organisational purpose

Working for Tesla isn’t about the pay or the “sexy” cars - it’s about meaning. “Accelerate the transition of sustainable transportation” isn’t taken lightly when it comes to the dedicated employees Tesla hires.

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Thomas Leech

Learn, explore, learn some more

Royal College of Art student Thomas Leech used his studies to explore and prototype the use of leather offcuts to create a range of sustainable shoes for children. Image © Thomas Leech

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Open Compute Project

Open source – the ultimate partnership

The Open Compute Project believes that openly sharing ideas, specifications, and other intellectual property is the key to maximising innovation and reducing complexity in tech components.

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Tesla

Performance, safety, and styling

Tesla understands what its customers want. Their focus is on the things that appeal to the car-driving masses: performance, safety, and styling. The fact that it uses no petrol is an added bonus.

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Brainstorming

Structure your thinking

Brainstorming isn’t just a free-for-all. To get the best out of the team follow IDEO.org’s simple rules for encouraging collaboration to get the ideas flowing.

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Toaster Build to think

Build to Think

The Agency of Design built out three different versions of their toasters to test and understand the implications of material usage and ease of creating the most effective model for circularity.

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Philips

Starting small with a big idea

A collaboration between architect Thomas Rau and Philips resulted in a successful bespoke light as a service model. Philips, who maintain control of the lighting, are now refining the business model for wider use.

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Adidas + Parley

Storytelling to engage

Adidas + Parley created running shoes made of recycled ocean plastic. They made an engaging video and encouraged those who wanted a pair to post to Instagram their shared commitment against single-use plastic.

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Caterpillar

Fix it before it fails

Rather than fixing equipment when it fails, Caterpillar’s technology monitors and receives feedback from equipment while in use to anticipate repair needs.

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Bundles

Internet enabled pay-per-wash

Bundles uses Internet of Things technology to provide customers with a pay-per-wash service on washing machines. They also maintain and refurbish their machines to prolong their lives.

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Maersk

Developing Product Passports for recovery and reuse

Maersk Line’s aim is to make new ships from used materials by designing vessels for quality recycling. To do this they developed a Cradle to Cradle Passport to identify and then recycle materials.

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Bugaboo

Pay as you go, and switch when you need

The Bugaboo Flex Plan responds to user needs and allows customers to pay a monthly fee to lease a stroller. Once a child grows out of it, it can be returned so that another family can make use of it.

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Textiles Recycling Valley

Greater than the sum of its parts

The Textiles Recycling Valley initiative aims to dramatically increase collection and reuse of textiles through interdisciplinary collaboration among partners who bring different skills or knowledge to the table.

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Steelcase

Closing the loop on textile waste

Steelcase created furniture using a closed-loop system of recycled textile waste which was turned into new materials. This meant collaborating with all parties along the supply chain. Photograph: Designtex

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Splosh

Save hassle. Save money. Save the planet

Customers of Splosh subscribe to receive pouches of concentrated cleaning products which either safely dissolve as part of the product or can be sent back for refilling.

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Riversimple

Moving mobility from product to service

Customers of Riversimple pay an all-encompassing monthly fee for affordable eco-cars, produced in distributed manufacturing facilities based near the markets they serve. Image by Riversimple/Dezeen

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Desso

Desso created a take-back programme for its flooring made of recyclable yarn. This was a change of direction for their business and their product range which they undertook after learning about Cradle to Cradle®.

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Opendesk

“We helped Opendesk become even more circular”

Opendesk creates open-source digital designs that can be downloaded, customised, and produced locally. RCA grads Mariana Pedrosa and Andrea Fischer found opportunities to make their business model even more circular.

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Linux

Always in beta

As one of the best known open-source operating systems, Linux operates in perpetual beta as it changes and grows constantly through the inputs of its users.

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Mud Jeans

Pioneering jeans for life

Mud Jeans provides organic cotton jeans to customers through a leasing model. The company repairs them when needed or recycles the material to create new jeans.

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Fairphone

A better phone is a phone made better

Fairphone has turned a traditionally linear product, a mobile phone, on its head with the world’s first repairable, modular smartphone that is made up of responsibly sourced materials. Image © Fairphone

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Agency of Design – Toaster

Designing the Optimist Toaster

Simple, durable design: the mechanical parts can be user-serviced and the cast aluminium toaster is made of one material so it can be melted down to be turned into something new if it breaks.

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Ecovative

Growing alternatives to petroleum-based packaging

This innovative biomaterials company created mushroom-based protective packaging products like Myco-foam to replace plastic foams such as Styrofoam.

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Glossary

Biological Cycle

Consumables in a circular economy are made from biological nutrients that are non-toxic and possibly even beneficial to the biosphere whence they are returned after being consumed.

Biomimicry

Biomimicry is learning from and then emulating nature’s forms, processes, and ecosystems to create more sustainable designs.

Biosphere

The biosphere is the global ecological system comprising all living beings and their interactions, including with, for example, the atmosphere. It is the global sum of all ecosystems.

Cascade

Cascading materials and components means making use of them for another purpose once they reach their end-of-use phase, thereby extracting value from stored energy and material coherence. Along the cascade material order declines as entropy increases.

Cradle to Cradle

The Cradle-to-Cradle concept and certification process, developed by William McDonaugh and Michael Braungart, is a design philosophy that considers all materials, both technical and biological, to be nutrients for the system. It focuses on the design of effective products with a positive impact. For more see: http://www.cradletocradle.com

Flow

The flow of a non-renewable resource is the rate at which its finite stock (or known reserve) is depleted. The flow of a renewable resource is the rate it is used in (or degraded by) the economy; when its flow rate exceeds its regeneration rate the stock starts to degrade.

Regenerative

A system is regenerative if its processes are able to renew or regenerate the sources of materials and energy that they consume. Regenerative design is associated with the Lyle Center for Regenerative Studies in California (https://env.cpp.edu/rs/rs).

Restorative

In the technical cycle surplus energy is used to create order in matter so as to be able to build infrastructure, tools, and products. Processes such as remanufacture restore this order, using less energy than would be needed to start from scratch.

Stock

The stock of a non-renewable resource such as a metal ore or fossil fuel is finite outside geological timeframes. The stock of a renewable resource such as a forest or soil can be regenerated. In a circular economy stocks of both types are managed.

System

A system is a set of interacting components forming an intricate whole. The circular economy is particularly concerned with complex adaptive systems (such as the global economy and the biosphere), which have features like emergent behaviour and self-organisation.

Technical Cycle

Technical materials (nutrients), such as metals and most plastics, are not suitable to be safely returned to the biosphere and so are designed from the start to enter the technical cycle, consisting of loops of repairing, reusing, remanufacturing, and recycling.

The Circular Design Guide is a collaboration between the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and IDEO. To give your feedback, email us directly or join our linkedin group.

Copyright © Ellen MacArthur Foundation + IDEO 2016.