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Op-Ed: Danish Companies Can Push Denmark's Country Overshoot Day

14. Mar 2024

On March 16, we Danes used our share of the planet’s natural resources for 2024. We need to change that. More strategic use of circular design in Danish companies is part of the solution

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Scroll down to read the op-ed in Danish

For the rest of the year, we use more resources than the Earth can regenerate in one year. If everyone lived like us Danes, we would use more than four globes. Moreover, we are one of the first countries in the world to reach the limit – and even earlier than last year.

We have to change that. We know that Danish companies are part of the solution at DDC – Danish Design Center – and so is an increased and more widespread use of design.

Eighty percent of a product’s environmental impact is due to decisions made in the design phase (Ellen MacArthur Foundation). McKinsey (2022) points to design as the key to solving future challenges within, for example, supply and value chains and to developing products and solutions for the circular economy.

A circular economy can ensure the responsible use of resources and materials in production and create a new consumer culture with reduced and more responsible consumption. Design is a decisive catalyst to initiate and realize that change.

80 percent of a product's environmental impact is due to decisions made in the design phase

Ellen MacArthur Foundation

Companies call for design skills

But the Danish companies need help. They specifically demand design skills to succeed in the transition. That is clear in Design Delivers Green, a survey we carried out in collaboration with the Confederation of Danish Industry in 2022.

61 percent of the companies surveyed demand skills and knowledge of sustainable materials. And 58 percent of the companies surveyed demand skills and knowledge of user and customer needs within the circular transition.

These are essential design skills. In our daily work with companies nationwide, we find that they often need help figuring out where to start the transition and lack knowledge.

All sides must act

We encourage more dialogue between companies and designers. Companies should look to designers to solve the challenges. Designers must act on their crucial role in transitioning to a circular economy and be more proactive in working with companies to achieve their circular goals.

The strategic use of circular design plays a decisive role in strengthening companies’ competitiveness and, at the same time, creating a more sustainable and circular society. 87 percent of companies find that the use of design strengthens their competitiveness.

The potential is great – for all of us. Denmark is only four percent circular. There are plenty of resources that we can and must use smarter.

Let’s get started on pushing back Denmark’s Country Overshoot Day!

Read the op-ed in Danish here

Martin Delfer


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