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Learn From the People Behind the
Circular Transition

10. Dec 2021

This in-depth user survey focuses on the human perspective of circular transformation. You can use the insights in your own transition. We have the tools and courses to get you started


“I started working on this topic [circular economy] like ‘okay let’s turn into a green company now’. It didn’t work. So, I’ve gone backward and I’ve tried to slowly infiltrate the culture,” says Charles H. Clarke, Social and Environmental Impact Lead at sportswear brand Pas Normal Studios, in the survey.

Charles and PNS are among the six public and private workplaces, we talk to in the survey. They all share their experiences with circular transformation, which is extremely valuable to anyone interested in speeding things up a bit.

What you get

In the survey, you learn how important it is to develop a strong internal culture if your business has a circular economy as a focal point.

You also learn how difficult the process can be, what a circular success looks like, and gain a perspective on how to motivate colleagues.

Here at the DDC, we’re determined to help develop a shared understanding and empathy for people working with and for the circular transition. Gaining insights into others’ visions and challenges is a key step towards establishing the conversations and relationships that are crucial to succeed with the circular transition.

What we found

Across the six participants, we see four core findings, that guide our future work with the circular transition:

  1. We have to understand the businesses better. We need to tailor solutions to the type of business we’re working with and to their unique situation and maturity in regards to transitioning to a circular economy.
  2. The driving force for change must be anchored broadly in the organization. The success of the company’s transition is often carried out by one very committed employee – this is problematic.
  3. The more the merrier. It’s hard being a circular business in a linear industry. Find allies.
  4. Design is a proven enabler. Design methods help companies transition faster and make better decisions.

Besides this, we found four key insights for each of the Danish businesses and municipalities that we talked to. The insights show, that the circular transition has to become a part of the business’ identity and culture; that the circular transition is filled with bumps – take one at the time; the circular transition calls for new partnerships and skills, and maybe most importantly that everyone needs help to transition. We can’t do it alone.

What we explored

We visited five Danish production businesses and one municipality in different parts of the country to better understand:

  • What drives their circular transition?
  • What challenges are they facing?
  • What successes have they already had?
  • What are the next steps for them?

We used semi-structured in-depth qualitative interviews. The survey is made in collaboration with Louis Rose, Sustainability-driven Designer, in the spring of 2021.

Who should read this?

The survey is relevant for any employee at any level in a business or organization that wants to become more circular or who is curious about what challenges and successes other businesses are experiencing in their circular transformation. The insights might empower others to make the right circular choices and to speak up and share their experiences.

It’s also relevant for other actors, who help businesses with their circular transition and who want to better understand the challenges we need to address to ease the transition.

To us, the survey is a strong indicator of where we need to focus our work with the circular economy – what new tools should we create, what methods and mindsets pay off, what are the main challenges that businesses face?

We’d love to hear from businesses that have the same or different experiences with transitioning to a circular economy! Reach out to Gry and share your thoughts.

Download the survey here

How to become more circular

If you want to become more circular, check out our circular toolkit. The toolkit is relevant for any kind of business.

You can also sign up for a free course focusing on creating more circular business models. Read more about our Green Circular Transition project here.

If you’re looking for more inspiration, dive into Tom Rossau’s case story. The lamp production company joined our Green Circular Transition program and came out reducing their packaging waste by up to 80% with a new flat-pack product.

Gry Brostrøm

Mission Driver

Phone +45 3115 8670
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Do you want to know more about the analysis or our work with circularity?

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Design School Kolding
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