Cross-Industry Collaborations Helping Drive Closed-Loop Manufacturing

While technology itself is essential for driving forward the circular agenda, cross-industry collaboration has a crucial role to play in scaling sustainable solutions to pressing environmental and social problems.

After recently releasing a report summarizing the potential of organic waste as a feedstock for the creation of building materials, ARUP has partnered with Goldfinger Factory, a fabrication atelier and teaching platform, to develop home and office products made from waste, discarded milk bottles and waste timber from refurbishment projects.

Dubbed ‘Golborne,’ the product line includes a range of upcycled storage and desk products. To create the line, the partners transformed waste products into food-safe polyethylene containers and solid timber lids, both of which allow for a streamlined recycling process: Components can easily be separated or replaced at the end of useful life.

“We can’t assume people will buy products on the basis that they are sustainable, the look and feel of the design and the story behind it have to stack up,” said Marie Cudennec, Co-Founder of Goldfinger Factory. “The Golborne range offers a sustainable approach to the manufacture of functional and beautiful products, one that uses waste as a resource with minimum impact whilst providing less advantaged people with the know-how to make a living from upcycling furniture.”

Goldfinger Factory is an award-winning design, build and teaching platform centered around upcycling that creates bespoke furniture and interiors while helping artisans and artisans-in-the-making become self-sustaining through craft and in turn saving materials from landfill.

Meanwhile, the EU-funded Resource Conservative Manufacturing (ResCoM) project has launched a new methodology and platform for the industrial implementation of closed-loop manufacturing systems.

With the rollout of these new tools, ResCoM aims to help designers and manufacturers understand how the collection, remanufacturing and reuse of products can lead to more profitable, resource-efficient and resilient business practices compared to the current predominantly linear manufacturing system.

The methodology and tools support manufacturers in transitioning to closed-loop products that are designed for multiple lifecycles. The tools help guide company decisions by illustrating the benefit of products designed with circularity in mind, highlighting economic impact, resource efficiency, greenhouse gas emissions and energy use.

“In 2013, ResCoM set out an ambition to support manufacturing companies in their transition from linear to circular business strategy. The new tools, methods and software platform developed in the project will now play a vital role in providing support towards this ambition — from circular product ideation to multiple lifecycle management,” said Amir Rashid, Associate Professor and Head of the MMS division at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology’s Department of Production Engineering.

Four industrial pilots conducted through ResCoM tested and developed the tools, which include a circularity calculator, multimethod simulator, circular pathfinder and a remanufacturing design checklist. The evidence gathered during the testing and development phase suggests that circular business models should be deployed in the early stages of a company’s product development process and manufacturers can use the ResCoM methodology and tools to do this.

“The ResCoM tools and methodologies have successfully supported Gorenje to identify opportunities to capture value from circular business models. Having developed a service-based concept for our ASKO washing machine throughout ResCoM, we have now moved beyond theory and into implementation with an application of a large-scale industrial pilot of this model with EU Horizon 2020 funding. We are looking forward to new challenges,” said Janez Uplaznik, EVP for Joint R&D.


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