How good design can help create a circular economy06. Oct 2021
Today’s linear economy extracts raw materials, produces, consumes, and discards with little consideration for the limited resources of our planet. So how can design help us accelerate the transition towards a new and circular economy?
Explaining the circular economy
The world population is expected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050. Consumption will increase and add more pressure on our resources and supply chains.
The circular economy is an attempt to use what we already have. It’s where our resources stay in continuous circuits and products are used again and again. They are repaired or upgraded and when they no longer function, we turn materials into new products to be used and recycled. The result? No wasted resources and no production for single-use purposes.
It won’t be easy to move to a circular economy. We face complex issues and a fundamental systemic change in our value chains, business models, and modes of production. Essentially, we need to completely redesign the way we produce and consume.
But the potential is huge. People, businesses, and society will benefit. Ellen MacArthur Foundation is working to accelerate the world’s move to a circular economy and forecasts remarkable results if Denmark were to implement a circular economy in select sectors.
As a country, we would:
- increase BNP by more than 0.8%
- create up to 13,000 new jobs
- reduce our CO2 imprint by 7%
- reduce consumption of new resources by up to 50%
It’s possible for us to redesign our current economic model and fulfill the potential of a circular economy. But we will need to apply our innovation skills and creativity across countries, sectors, businesses, and organizations.
Design as a catalyst for the circular transition
Design-led innovation makes it possible to work systematically, creatively, and iteratively with issues big and small. Design can create the changes needed for humans, businesses, cities, and, of course, the environment.
"A full circular transition calls for creative innovation in systems design and rigorous collaboration across and within value chains, plus among multiple stakeholders"
Circularity Gap Report 2021
Everyone can learn the design-led processes and tools that can help us:
- prioritize and navigate complex issues
- move between exploring, ideating, decision making, and testing to reduce the risk of making major irreversible decisions
- simplify collaboration between different professions and stakeholders
- create a shared understanding and language across industries and value chains
- engage and empathize with clients, users, and other relevant stakeholders in the transition to a circular economy
Closing the loops is fundamental to the circular economy. If we are to succeed, all stakeholders need to contribute and collaborate.
DDC and the circular transition
We currently work with several partners across several areas and projects that support the circular economy, both nationally and internationally.
Our current projects aim to:
- develop the sustainable and circular cities of the future
- minimize waste and increasing recycling through new technology
- turn the construction industry circular
- help small and medium-sized businesses fulfill their circular potential
- explore how innovation in public and private partnerships can drive the circular transition in cities.
Our partners on circular economy projects include the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the Danish Business Authority, Danish municipalities, the Confederation of Danish Industry, companies, B-Corp, BLOXHUB, etc., as well as the Danish Industry Foundation and Realdania.
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