Waste Benchmarking tool: developing a tool to support a designers role for the Circular Economy F. Costa Department of Applied Science, Cranfield University, Cranfield MK430FS, UK
A B S T R A C T
Keywords:Circular Economy Waste resources BenchmarkingEcodesign toolsDesigner role
Times are changing and the linear mode of consumption take-make-dispose needs to change and align more closely with natural systems, using waste and materials as resources. This sustainable concept is the Circular Economy and challenges different players in rethinking the economic way of business as usual. Due to the significant environmental, social and econo-mic impact of design a Designer is one of the key players. Designers have a vital role due to their ability to re-design products with significantly less waste impact and efficient use of resources. However, the available Ecodesign tools for designers arent being focused on this specific con-cept, and these tools arent being widely implemented by the design community, as referred in the literature review and further demonstrated by a survey conducted in this paper. This article proposes a new tool, to assist designers with benchmarking products performance against a list of indicators that support the Circular Economy and identify strategic design improvements. The list of indicators was created based on critical analysis of literature and tested and refined among a group of 17 different experts within individual workshops. The results confirmed a final list of 15 indicators and also validate the argument that there is no universal tool and that the solution is most useful when used in combination with other tools. To evaluate the final list of indicators, two Ecodesign experts confirmed the importance of all indicators and its value on arising the awareness of Circular Economy indicators into compa-nies and motivate them to change their traditional way of doing business.
The society as known now has become weal-thier compared with the past, meaning people are buying more products and ultimately generating more waste, for example EU citizens produced approximately 5.4 ton-nes in 2008 (EEA, 2012). Waste generation is an envi-ronmental problem that causes the release of methane emissions that contribute to climate change, as well as significant losses of raw materials, which Europe Union (EU) is highly dependent on imported raw materials. The amount of raw material that entered the global economic system in 2010 was approximately 65 billion tons and is expected to grow to 82 billion tons in 2020 (EEA, 2012; Ellen Macarthur Foundation, 2013). Another important factor is that the population is growing and is it is estima-ted that 3 billion people will join the ranks of middle-class consumers by 2030. Nature has the capability to transform its produ-ced waste into a food/raw material, never needing to dis-pose of it like humans do by using landfills (McDonough and Braungart, 2002). In the last 20 years different au-thors have been discussing solutions to the waste pro-blem by changing the way of looking to waste and ma-terials, to look as a valuable resource, a lot like nature does (Copper, 1994; Hawken et al., 1999; McDonough and Braungart, 2002: Ellen Macarthur Foundation, 2013; The Great Recovery, 2013). The latest movement of this
topic is the concept of Circular Economy, which denotes an industrial economy that is restorative by intention and design (Ellen Macarthur Foundation, 2013). The word de-sign isnt just associated to designing circular systems but also implies designing products considering the Circular Economy factors. Designers have a huge responsibility in the early stages of product development, due to the fact that approximately 80% of a products environmental im-pacts are determined at this phase, the design communi-ty has its own role on helping creating products with less waste impact (Lagerstedt and Lindfors, 2003; Bhamra and Lofthouse, 2007; Lofthouse, 2007; EEA, 2009; EC, 2013). To support designers, manufactures and engine-ers on making products with reduced environmental im-pact there are several Ecodesign tools available however their implementation within the design community is low. Besides this, no tools focusing on supporting the desig-ner role on the Circular Economy has been found. Therefore, this research proposes the develop-ment of a new tool, a waste benchmarking tool focusing on the designers role for the Circular Economy. This pa-per shows how a list of indicators was created, tested, refined and evaluated among a group of experts. A final tool is presented, composed of a list of indicators, where each indicator and its units of measurement are explai-ned. The process required completing, a flowchart on how to perform the waste benchmarking tool is also des-cribed.
shorter lifespans and easily out-date either because they are no longer fashionable or they have been superseded by more advanced technology or they have broken and are uneconomic to repair, is still the way most of todays products are being designed. As the world is full of prod-ucts that follow a linear model, re-designing the system towards a circular model is extremely important for a sus-tainable future. If there is a shift on looking to waste as a resource, a shift is also needed in the product design approach. During the NPD process, the concept design phase is considered one of the most vital phases due to the fact that about 80% of a products environmental impacts are determined at this phase, as well the costs, appearance, materials selection, innovations, performance and per-ception of quality (Lagerstedt and Lindfors, 2003; Bham-ra and Lofthouse, 2007; Lofthouse, 2007; EEA, 2009; EC, 2013). Therefore, the designer plays a vital role in re-designing products with less waste generation and products environmental impact, efficient use of resource to ultimately, contribute for a sustainable development. In 2013, The Great Recovery (2013) presented the design role on the Circular Economy: - Design products which can be economically repaired or fixed,- Give accessible information on how to fix products, - Design products able to be upgraded like personal computers where hardware can be easily add via USB ports,- Design products that can be remanufactured, meaning the product needs to be easily disassembled for restoring used components for new products or adaptable to do another function,- Design for an emotionally desirable product, reducing consumption and waste.
Alongside these responsibilities, it is also the designer role to embed into good design practices (The Great Recovery, 2013).
2.2. Ecodesign tools
In 2008, the European Union (EU) developed a waste directive, Directive 2008/98/EC, based on this new way of seeing waste as resource. It established a new waste hierarchy encouraging first waste preven-tion, then re-use, followed by recycling, recovery and finally disposal (EEA, 2008). The way this Directive pro-motes waste prevention is by encouraging designers to implement environmental assessment of the whole life cycle of products and materials (e.g. use of raw material, manufacturing, distribution, product use and end-of-life) into the design process. This methodology is called Ecodesign (Wimmer et al., 2004; EEA, 2008). Ecodesign tools have been developed to help and support mainly designers, industrial designers, en-
This research has a significant impact not only amongst the design community but also to new product development (NPD) companies, academics and univer-sities specifically Design, Strategic Business, Marketing and Environmental Engineering courses.
2 Literature Review
In order to develop the waste benchmarking tool, there is some prior work in separate areas of Circular Economy and Ecodesign tools that needs to be critically analysed. This section studies the literature in both areas and defines the research aim and objectives.
2.1 Circular Economy: the designer role
Traditional economic development follows a lin-ear manufacturing model of materials-products-waste, resulting in: excessive consumption of resources and discharge of waste; the exhaustion of resources; and the environment deterioration (Chen, 2009). In this traditional model, no considerations are given to the materials and to the environment, going in contradiction of the 2006 EU Sustainable Development Strategy of avoiding the gen-eration of waste and enhancing efficient use of natural resources by applying the concept of life-cycle thinking and promoting reuse and recycling (EEA, 2012). Bringing life cycle thinking on how to design and manufacture products can create further economic op-portunities and prevent waste disposal once it is used as a resource. This thinking is called Circular Economy, which in essence is a closed feedback circulatory process of materials- products- recycled/ reuse/ disassembly/ re-pair/ upgrade/ refurbishment materials (Chen, 2009; El-len Macarthur Foundation, 2013). Many authors have been presenting ways cre-ating a circular feedback process: in 1994, Tim Cooper (1994), argued that to minimize waste, the key element was to increase product durability; in 1999, Paul Hawken et al., (1999) proposed five key ways to keep materials on a continuous feedback loop: repair the products (e.g. de-sign to facilitate the repair), reuse products (e.g. pass to a new user or life with different purpose), remanufacturing products (e.g. design to easily disassemble, saving ener-gy and raw materials), recycle (e.g. choosing recyclable materials to reconstitute to another or similar product) and last, recovery (e.g. ground, melted or dissolved to its basic materials to be include for other purpose); and in 2007, Bhamra and Lofthouse (2007) emphases the importance designing product for durability which gener-ally consumes