Keeping materials in circulation and preventing them from becoming waste in the first place are two key factors for an ideal circular economy. Design can be considered as the heart of circular economy, since the objective of eco cycles is to maintain the value of products, their components and materials. And that is precisely what design should contribute to: allowing products and materials to be used for as long as possible.
Design centres and the UBA support circular-economy-compatible design
Since 2016, six design centres from the Baltic Sea Region have been working together with the UBA as the lead partner to promote design for a circular economy. By offering educational, consulting and networking opportunities, the three year EU Interreg project “EcoDesign Circle” aims to strengthen the ecodesign expertise of and between design centres, (product) designers, businesses and teachers.
Circular Design Forum as a platform for international networking and discussion
In the summer of 2018, the Circular Design Forum provided an opportunity for further discussions and international exchange. Presentations, panels and workshops provided insights into approaches for sustainable design, future-oriented business models and political frameworks for more than 200 participants from 21 countries. Presented topics, such as bionics, material innovations, fashion and mindsets, addressed both the realisation possibilities and the limits of a circular economy.
The international conference was organised in Berlin by the International Design Center Berlin in cooperation with all the EcoDesign Circle partners. The video documentation of the presentations and panel discussions that were offered at the conference as well as the final results of the project are now available online.
New training and consulting formats for businesses
A major focus at the Circular Design Forum was on the project results of “EcoDesign Circle”. Visitors were given the chance to try out the Learning Factory Ecodesign, a training workshop conceptualised by the Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration (IZM) which combines design thinking methods with sustainability. With the Ecodesign Audits and Sprints developed by the Design Forum Finland and the Estonian Design Centre, the approaches that were playfully tested by the Learning Factory have now been realised at the practical level in Northern Europe: together with a design agency and an expert for circular economy, six small and medium sized enterprises have developed more sustainable products or service offerings. The most convincing alternatives are now set to be realised in the companies, replacing versions that are less environmentally friendly and have insufficient circular economy compatibility.
During the Circular Design Forum, the Sustainability Guide web platform was launched. The platform aims to help businesses and designers enter the world of circular economy compatible design, and incorporates convincing and current practical examples from the Baltic Sea Region in the form of short films.