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Circular Design Tools

Can designers make tools to support lifecycle thinking?

To make the circular economy a reality we will need to find new ways to work together across the whole value chain. As part of the Trash-2-Cash project, Kate Goldsworthy & Dawn Ellams developed collaborative ‘life cycle thinking’ (LCT) tools to integrate multiple perspectives within the design process.

This research positioned material scientists, industry stakeholders, consumer behaviour and Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) researchers into the heart of an iterative design process. Tools were developed between and tested through workshops over a 21-month period. Several key findings proved the value in the use of these interdisciplinary LCT methods, alongside new insights into barriers and opportunities for future circular material developments. Designing tools for collaborative research and the sharing of knowledge in this context was instrumental in helping to promote social exchange and the building of communities within the project and beyond. The resulting journal article, Collaborative Circular Design: Incorporating Life Cycle Thinking into an Interdisciplinary Design Process, provides an important basis for understanding how to bring the theory of circularity into a networked industry practice.

An overhead photo of people standing around a round table filling in a work sheet