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Product, Service & Design Innovation
Novelis, Unilever, Forum Co-Develop Tools to Help Ease Shift to Circular Products, Business Models

Following the recent announcement of a €24 billion EU Circular Economy Package, leading sustainability non-profit Forum for the Future has today launched two free tools, developed together with partners Unilever and Novelis, that empower businesses and designers to make decisions that accelerate the shift towards a more circular economy.

“The widespread ‘take, make, waste’ business model rampantly consumes finite resources and results in huge amounts of waste. We need to rapidly make the shift to economic models in which products and materials are repaired, reused or recycled as much as possible,” said Forum for the Future CEO Sally Uren. “The EU announcement is a step in the right direction, but we don’t just need legislation — we also need to educate and empower those that are embedded within the product design process and those who make business decisions. These two tools are aimed at doing just that.”

Both tools are designed to help change mindsets about product life cycles, material flows and processes, in order to speed up the transformation of prevalent linear economic models into more sustainable ones that prevent and minimize wastage.

Design for Demand is an online tool developed with Novelis — a world leader in rolled aluminum production — to educate new designers and design students about circular design principles.

“Reuse and recycling lie at the heart of Novelis’ business — we opened the world’s largest aluminium recycling center in Germany in 2014,” said Andy Doran, Senior Manager of Sustainability at Novelis. “Aluminium by nature has immense potential for recycling — 75 percent of all the aluminium ever made is still in use — and we wanted to use it as a case study to help designers think differently about their design choices, material use and product vision.

“Designing for a circular economy isn’t easy, but it’s necessary. We want Design for Demand to assist designers in innovating new products that cut waste and change the way consumers use them.”

Meanwhile, the Circular Business Model Toolkit was created for Unilever to help its global product teams understand how business models, innovative products and strategic partnerships can contribute to a more resource-efficient economy.

“At Unilever, we firmly believe that action on climate change is good for business and we want to share that insight with others,” said Gavin Warner, Director of Sustainable Business at Unilever. “We have found the Circular Business Model Toolkit immensely helpful as a tool that helps our teams visualize scenarios for better product sustainability, and are certain that they will be a valuable resource for other business leaders and decision makers as well.”

The two new tools add to a growing arsenal of resources for those committed to redesigning our systems of production and consumption: Last year, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and Granta Design launched a set of Circularity Indicators that enable companies to assess how well a product or company performs in the context of a circular economy. The Indicators measure the extent to which the material flows of a product or company are restorative, thereby enabling companies to measure their progress in making the transition from linear to circular models, and to identify areas of further opportunity.


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