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The WGSN Sustainability Glossary: What is circular design?

Phone displaying recycling symbol
ready made/Pexels
Nov 26, 2022 By WGSN Insider

The WGSN Sustainability Glossary provides definitions for key concepts and terminology related to environmental, social and economical sustainability throughout the whole supply chain.

Based on the principles of circular product design, this free resource is applicable to Consumer Insight and all the industries we serve: Fashion, Beauty, Interiors, Consumer Tech and Food & Drink.

Our series of blogs cover the need-to-know topics in sustainability to help you make better decisions for your brand and the planet. Each post will begin by identifying the relevant stages of the topic in the production cycle, from sourcing to post-purchase, to facilitate your product design process. In this first post of the series, WGSN explains what circular design is.

What is circular design?

Circular design is an approach that replaces the ‘take-make-waste’ linear model with a circular model of design in which products are designed to be environmentally low-impact, to last for a longer time and to be easily reused or recycled at the end of their useful life. The aim is to eliminate waste and to enable continuous, closed-loop use of resources.

Stages of the production cycle, from sourcing to post-purchase
Circular design should be considered at the design stage/WGSN Original Image

Circular innovations

From Finland, Fazer has started commercial production of xylitol from upcycled oat hulls, hailing its patented process as “an excellent example of a modern circular economy innovation”. Developed in anticipation of increasing international demand for the sugar replacer, the company’s sustainable xylitol production method, pioneered at its factory in Lahti, utilises oat hulls sourced from its own oat milling operations. Once processed, the oat hull remains are then used as bioenergy, ensuring zero waste and a low carbon footprint.

Xylitol with oat hulls in background
Fazer Xylitol/Fazer

Spared, a startup from UK-based Volume Creative, partners with businesses to transform production waste into useful objects. Its first design, the XOU lamp created in collaboration with local lighting company houseof, consists of recycled plastic coat hangers, solvent-free gypsum and 3D-printed plastic made from sugarcane. Consumers are encouraged to return the lamp at its end of life to continue the circular approach and mindset.

XOU lamp featuring X-shaped base and spherical bulb
XOU table lamp/Volume Creative x houseof

Balena is a material science company that has launched its first fashion product. Designed and manufactured in Italy, the slides are made with BioCir, a compostable and biodegradable thermoplastic material. At their end of life, the footwear can be disposed of responsibly through decomposition and biodegradation in a compost environment without leaving waste or contamination that damages the earth and oceans.

WGSN subscribers can discover more circular innovations in our Fashion, Beauty, Food & Drink, Interiors and City by City Feeds.

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