We live very much in a linear economy where the take-make-waste model still dominates but isn't favoured by the planet.
A circular economy aims to redefine this model by choosing to recycle and reuse rather than waste. A circular economy encourages the use of renewable resources and discourages us from depending on finite resources, leading to waste.
Designing out waste is another important arm of the circular economy where we strive to prevent waste and pollution from occurring in the first place.
Designing out the negative aspects that could harm our planet from the cycle creates a robust circular economy that all will favour.
Everything around us is designed and created by someone for a purpose. In most cases, the design only considers the end-use of the object.
When choosing to design out waste, the designer will consider what will happen to the product at the end of its life and how it will be disposed of or, better yet, how it can be recycled and reused.
Why is designing out waste so important?
Almost everything around us has been designed for a linear economy considering time, cost and simplicity.
However, striving to redesign our systems and products based on circular economic principles will save our planet and help save wasting resources, including money!
As the war on waste movement highlights, the actual cost of waste is not just the negative environmental impact or the waste collection/disposal cost, but the value of the materials, storage costs, handling and management of waste through the process and the loss of revenue from not selling, recycling or reusing waste.
Design and innovation teams must focus more on efficient waste procurement (reuse of materials and specifying recycled content where appropriate) and less waste disposal strategies.
This needs to happen by developing designing out waste strategies, planning materials logistics and supply chain collaboration.
To live harmoniously with our planet, we need to depend on the circular economy rather than blindly exploiting a linear economy. Creating and designing objects while keeping in mind all stages of its life cycle is the next new phase of innovation.
3 Approaches to Designing Out Waste
There are several steps that a designer can use to avoid wastage during the pre and post use of a product which would integrate the product perfectly into the circular economy.
There are also several strategies a designer can adopt so that a product ending up in a landfill can be reused easily or disassembled easily for recycling, thus reducing the environmental footprint of each design.
These steps will invariably minimise material costs and contribute positively to the organisation's bottom line.
Upcycling is to reuse discarded material or objects in different ways to create a product of better value and quality. This is an approach adopted by most companies aspiring to boost their bottom line while saving the environment.
2. Zero waste
Zero waste is when by using innovative techniques, designers eliminate the waste created during the preparation and manufacturing process of an object.
Design for disassembly requires designers to think about the recyclability of the products they create. In practice, design for disassembly means designing a durable and fit-for-purpose product that can be disassembled easily at end-of-life.
Product design and development are crucial to moving away from a linear economy and towards a circular economy that affects an organisation's different areas.
However, circular product design and development have not been well established yet in the circular economy domain, and the design phase does not adequately consider circularity aspects.
Circular design stages adopted by Uppercup.
At Uppercup, we believe in the importance of a circular economy and zero waste living. As a certified B Corp organisation, we make it our utmost priority to make it easy for everyone to Reduce-Reuse-Recycle and reduce the pressure on our environment ... one sip at a time!
We follow a few stages to ensure that our carefully created product and process designs aim to reduce waste from the design stage to delivering the product to our customers and keeping the end product away from landfills.
We ensure our partners share the same values to remain true to our mission at all stages of our business processes.
- Understand. At Uppercup, we have to spend a lot of time researching to understand the end coffee drinker and the environment in which the cup will exist that will ultimately make it the perfect coffee cup while fitting neatly into a circular economy.
- Uppercup is designed for people who love coffee; the conical bottom means you can have a perfectly poured coffee every time and the double wall keeps your coffee warm without burning your fingers. The unique snap-on lid allows you to take the cup with you where ever you go.
Click here for more information on Uppercup.
- Define the design and intention of creating the ultimate coffee cup that serves the perfect cup of coffee without burning yourself and the need to keep reusing and recycling the cup even after it completes its lifetime.
This means your Uppercup won't end up in a landfill but will be recycled locally & made into a new Uppercup+ ready to be used again.
Recycling an old Uppercup at the end of life means that we have created a closed-loop solution, where we take back the old Uppercup's that are recycled & reused.
Make, create and test prototypes over some time until the design is perfected.
- Release the design and build strong relationships with all stakeholders to support the life cycle of this cup.
Like any innovation, for the circular economy to succeed, it's essential to choose and patronise individuals and organisations that create and offer circular solutions such as designing out waste.