What is circular design and how is it helping sustainability credentials soar?

Round design is the consideration of a product’s total lifecycle, the whole lot from idea and growth by way of to the way it’s used and what occurs after its main use.

For instance, H&M partnered with ICO to gather 29,000 tonnes of textiles for re-wear and re-use by turning into different textile merchandise or recycling.

Deloitte’s Shifting Sands report famous that 45% of technology Z have stopped buying with sure manufacturers as a result of environmental or sustainability issues, so the retailers who’re in a position to navigate the complexities of sustainability effectively will really cleared the path.

There are various elements of round design that manufacturers needs to be contemplating, and beneath we delve into just some of the important thing elements you’ll be able to’t afford to miss.

What must you be contemplating?

Materials selections

For genuine sustainability, it’s necessary to be supplies with the bottom doable affect. And this isn’t simply concerning the supplies you employ – how you employ them is significant as effectively. Are you making certain that you simply’re minimizing waste? Do you perceive the impacts of any by-products, or can these be re-used in any respect?

There isn’t an ideal resolution and there’s little doubt it may be arduous to get it proper, however by scrutinizing every a part of the method you’re serving to to scale back destructive impacts on the planet.

Waste avoidance

It’s a on condition that it’s necessary to maintain any waste to a minimal, however might you go additional and eradicate waste altogether? Benefit from digital samples and the way you develop prototypes; 80% of environmental injury is set on the design stage, so consider your early design phases fastidiously. If bodily prototypes can’t be prevented, then might you make sure the supplies used will be recycled or repurposed?


What elements do your merchandise comprise of? How straightforward are these to dissemble when the time comes? Might every particular element be recycled or reused? If a shopper couldn’t dissemble the product, might they feasibly return it to you or a 3rd social gathering?

Primarily, every component of your product wants cautious consideration, not nearly the way it will work as supposed, however the place it’ll go when the product has reached the tip of its life.


Your accountability towards a product doesn’t finish with a sale. For a lot of objects, put on and tear can cut back efficiency or performance, however we will examine methods to rectify this, relatively than merely letting or not it’s thrown away. Is there something you might introduce to assist refurbishment, similar to restore kits, alternative elements or troubleshooting guides? Or maybe look to your supplies to make them extra strong – basically, something that may extend the lifetime of your product.

Round packaging

Packaging is a good place to search for sustainability enhancements. Ideally, you’re searching for packaging that may be reused, recycled or is biodegradeable. Some manufacturers use their packaging as an academic device, or use packaging that may be remodeled into one thing else.

Your first query ought to at all times be: ‘Do I would like packaging?’ If the reply is sure, then it’s time to get inventive about how you employ it. Customers are more and more searching for inexperienced credentials from manufacturers and retailers, and this can be a nice approach to talk your actions to them.

We’ve solely scratched the floor of what you are able to do with round design right here, and every materials, product, model or retailer could have its personal distinctive complexities and issues. There’s way more nonetheless to contemplate.

Steve Lister, sustainability advisor at APS Group.

For more on the reinvention of retail, check out The Drum’s Retail hub, where we explore everything from livestreaming e-commerce to AR shopping and conscious consumerism.

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