Design for a Circular Future


2018 marked a pronounced uptake in our consumer clients looking to redress their own part in waste reduction, whether this change in behaviour was brought about because of: increased political pressure, habitual changes in purchasing or just a general social-conscious to stop the tide of waste.

Since then we have spent much of our time working with clients to help them to up-skill, and innovate, their approach to supply chain in an attempt to reduce material waste associated with traditional linear supply methods. Circular (design) thinking will play a vital role in putting a stop to the ‘take-make-dispose’ economy.

Beyond the obvious sustainable merits of this approach, we found that businesses open to thinking ‘circular’ had a greater affinity with consumer experience, and a more open attitude to innovation at multiple levels within their customer journey.

Six examples to get you thinking circular

Along the way we have found some great existing examples of circular solutions, waste focused start-up services and disruption models that we wanted to share as inspiration for those embarking on their own circular journey.

Get Wonky (now Flawsome)

Get Wonky turn misshapen strawberries and odd-shaped apples into additive-free juices, making sure appearance doesn’t prevent fruit from being used and consumed instead of discarded. They support farmers who cannot sell their wonky produce anywhere else and make additive and gluten-free drinks. Get Wonky drinks are packaged in 100% recyclable glass bottles and sustainable catering pack to reduce plastic waste.

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Bundles 

Bundles offer a pay-per-wash laundry service, leasing washing machines instead of selling them. Customers pay for the outcome rather than a product, which makes it in the provider’s interest to maintain their products and maximise lifespan. The washing machine can be returned for repair or re-manufacture. Bundles integrates an IoT system to monitor the condition of the product while maximising economic benefit to the user.

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Philips Lighting

Philips sell LED lighting as a service, retaining ownership of the light fittings so customers do not have to pay the upfront costs of installation. On top of this, they are also being paid from the energy savings of their products and Philips take the products back for recycling or upgrading. This product as a service business model means the customer pays for a result rather than the product, and the provider can manage their resources and recover value at end of life.

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iFixit

iFixit is a global community of repair technicians and consumers who help each other to fix things by sharing online repair instructions and knowhow. iFixit partners with manufacturers to support their customers by distributing repair guides, parts and tools. It is driving consumer demand for more durable, resource-efficient products by making repair easier than replacement – increasing product lifespans, improving customer satisfaction and building value.

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Splosh

Splosh apply a ‘one-time sale’ model to cleaning products. They supply a reusable bottle that can be refilled with cleaning solutions. The solutions are delivered in concentrate form to minimise environmental impact of distribution. Circular economy relies on separating technical and biological materials to optimise end-of-life routes. Splosh’s liquids are safe to simply wash down the drain.

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Ahlma

After a typically short use span, 86% of clothing is either landfill or burned; 13% is down-cycled and less than 1% is recycled into new clothes. Startup, Ahlma, has re-imagined the operating system of the textile industry, from the product conception to the end-user experience. Utilising 80% of its fabrics from waste production, open source design resources, e-commerce means a lean inventory, packaging materials are designed with re-purposing in mind and in-store green-laundry and repair labs service.

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Designing for circular or just innovating your customer experience…

If you are considering your next step on a road to innovating your brands’ approach to supply chain, sustainability or even want to review your consumer experience, we would welcome the chance to share what we have learnt. Please reach out to either Grace or Ben who will be happy to arrange a convenient time.

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Rodd Design is a privately owned industrial design and innovation studio formed in 2000 by Tim Rodd and Ben Davies, focused on delivering the highest quality creative work and commercially effective product design.

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