Tools for the first product development stages

When implementing circular design, strategic decisions already need to be made during the first product development stages.
Within ResCoM, we have developed dedicated design methods and tools to support designers in understanding and implementing circular design.
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We list these ResCoM tools here that can be useful to integrate circular design in the first product development stages.



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Rethinking business models - Recommended reading

The revenue model you selected, selling products to customers, is a dominant model when doing business in a linear economy. However, many companies that employ circular design strategies have reconsidered their business model. The following resources provide an overview of different business and revenue models with examples.

  • The EMF has described multiple case studies of companies that have implemented new business models: EMF Case Studies.
  • The book ‘Managing Closed-Loop Supply Chains’ describes cases on how companies have applied closed-loop supply chains as a profitable business proposition.
  • The PTL-project has devised a flow diagram for identifying suitable circular business models and product design strategies. [to add link to image]
  • The Value Hill provides a framework and guide to circular business strategies.
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When using this product, do any of its materials get dissipated ('lost')? For instance:

> Ink in a pen is consumed

> Washing machine detergents are consumed

> Disposable batteries in a toy are 'consumed'

> Soles of a shoe wear away
The product contains consumables and parts of the product wear away.
How long do people use the product and why do they stop using it?
Our target customer uses the product for years, after which the main reason why it is replaced or discarded is that
This is a special outcome! Very few products will never be replaced or discarded but instead be kept for a lifetime and beyond. If your product is cherished forever such as great works of art, nothing needs to change for it to become circular; it can already circulate for generations to come.
Since the products' use life is currently limited by it being broken/vis degraded, the user may want a replacing product.

For example: in js staat when a washing machine breaks down, the user still has a need for washing clothes. /when a shirt has degraded visually, the user may still need a shirt.
A user needs the function that is provided by the product for about years.
That implies the user replaces the product about N times.
Since the products' use life is currently limited by the user's need or want for it, does the product last long enough for another use life?
The average product will last years without functional failure.
That would mean the product could in principle be used about N times by a different user.
Would there be demand for the reuse of products, when they are in good condition?
When a used product is restored to/ still in good condition, there people interested in buying and using it/leasing and using it/using it in a pay-per-use plan.
Will clients that buy/lease/pay per use of a product require warranty?
Our customers demand a manufacturer's warranty on it to assure that the product will work well.
When the product is replaced or discarded after use, are its parts still useful?

For instance because:

> the exact same product is still in production

> a next version uses some of the same parts

> there is a demand for spare parts in as-new condition.
After N years of use, parts of the product useful.
The product parts are mainly useful for the
Thank you. At the right, you will find the suggested Circular pathways for the case where users buy/lease/pay-per-use your product.

If you are also considering other business models, you can revisit the questions for these business models as well, simply by changing your answers above.
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Cycles
Suitable
Optional
Prolong
Upgrade
Reuse
Repair
Refurbish
Remanufacture
Recycle
Biodegrade
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Examples
These companies have already implemented circular design strategies: