Inauguration Ruud Balkenende: 'Product designers need to take the recyclability into account'

News - 25 October 2017

Raw earth materials are becoming increasingly scarce, and when making products, environmental pressure only increases. Designers must therefore consider the possibilities of reusing their products much more than they do now. And if this happens in a smart way, it is attractive for companies as well. That is the main message of Professor Circular Product Design Ruud Balkenende, who delivers his inaugural lecture in the TU Delft auditorium on 10 November at 3 o'clock.

Ruud Balkenende is originally a chemist and worked at Philips for 25 years. He was appointed by TU Delft in 2015 as the world's first professor of Circular Product Design. In this position, he is currently researching how to keep products in circulation as long as possible with as little impact on the environment as possible and the highest economic value. "Companies must have a win in a sustainable transition," Ruud says. “That can be done in many different ways, depending on the context and the underlying business model. But I'm convinced that for almost every business an advantage can be gained from more circular product design."

‘Evil conspiracy’
The inaugural lecture of Ruud Balkenende forms the public closure of PLATE – Product Lifetimes And The Environment, a major scientific conference on circular economics and sustainability, which takes place from 8 to 10 November at the TU Delft faculty of Industrial Design Engineering. During PLATE, about 140 scientists discuss sustainability issues. For example, the question if manufacturers keep the lifespan of their products intentionally short to raise their profits. In some countries, this ‘planned obsolescence’ is even prohibited by law. But do manufacturers really do that? Or is this just an evil conspiracy theory and is the truth something different?

During PLATE there are also various public lectures on the future of the circular economy. Among other things, Kyle Wiens gives a public student lecture. Kyle is founder of Ifixit, a website with repair instructions for just about anything. There are also lectures by Kirsi Niinimaki of Aalto University (Finland) and James Pierce of Berkeley University (USA).

Online festival of ideas
In the area of ​​sustainability, much more is going on in November. For example, the Disruptive Innovation Festival takes place between 6 and 24 November. During this online festival of ideas, the central question is ‘What if we can design everything again?’ The programme is packed with famous speakers, mainly in the field of sustainability issues. How do we get rid of all our waste? How can designers bring circular economy to the attention of companies? But other issues are also addressed, for example, how computer simulations can help to better understand our economy?

Walter Stahel, one of the pioneers of circularity and the cradle-to-cradle principle, will hold a public lecture and lead a number of live sessions from the TU Delft studio, in which PLATE participants will speak. These sessions will be broadcasted on 9 November as part of the Disruptive Innovation Festival.

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