IO3075 - Towards Circular Product Design


Design will play a key role in the transition to a circular economy. Too often we design products with little regard for what happens when we no longer want them. But waste is design gone wrong! 

This course will strengthen your skills as a designer by tackling the transition from our linear ‘take-make-waste’ economy to a circular economy. In a circular economy products loop back into the production system through repair, refurbishment, remanufacturing and eventually, recycling. By doing this we extend their useful life and prevent waste.

We will address circular product design through a series of lectures and four short practicums:

1. Design for disassembly in a “Teardown Lab”

In the Teardown practicum we disassemble products in order to learn how we can redesign them to improve their fit in a circular economy. 

2. Playing with solar PV products

Renewable energy drives a circular economy. But how feasible is it to use solar energy to power our products? In this practicum you’ll learn the basics of the application of photovoltaics (PV) in products.

3. Circular business models

Business models based on the “Sell more - Sell faster” principle are not suited to accommodating circular products and their services. The success of a circular economy depends on new business models that are able to truly capitalise on longer product lifespans over time. Together we explore which business models will drive the product and service designs of the future.

4. Designing Cradle to Cradle products

Cradle to Cradle is a key circular design strategy. We explore C2C with a qualified expert and redesign a product/service according to C2C principles.

Extra information. This course:

  • Is taught in English
  • Is a valuable addition to all Bachelor courses, as it addresses some exciting sustainability topics that attract worldwide company interest
  • May be less interesting for students who have already followed the minor Sustainable Design Engineering (unless they want a refresher)

Phoneblocks & Motorola – an example of circular product design?

Ellen MacArthur Foundation – the Circular Economy