Ellen MacArthur Foundation launches new circular design toolkit

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF) has launched a new resource, entitled the ‘Circular Design Toolkit’, designed to assist manufacturers in minimising the environmental impact of their products, extending their life, and optimising their ability to be recycled.

This comes on the heels of the foundation’s circular economy business tool, released earlier this year.

Ellen MacArthur Foundation launches new circular design toolkitArranged into four sections, the guide contains a selection of curated resources to assist manufacturers in exploring and applying circular design principles, connecting with like-minded designers, and contributing to the global movement for circularity.

Several case studies are showcased in the toolkit, drawn from businesses such as Biopak, Ahrend and DSM-Niaga, and regional initiatives including New York City’s #WearNext campaign, and Toronto’s Circular Economy Procurement Implementation Plan and Framework.

Commenting on the release of the toolkit, Anna Queralt Fuentes, Engagement Manager for the EMF’s Circular Design Programme, said: “Designers play a crucial role in the transition towards the circular economy. At the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, we believe that designing for the circular economy is better thought of as a journey rather than a goal. And, this is a hands-on journey that consists of using design thinking methods combined with a circular economy mindset.

“In other words, we focus on the users' needs and, at the same time understand the whole system and how the different elements of it interact. This approach can be applied to any industry such as fashion, packaging or food and cross-industries. For this reason, we have curated a Toolkit based on resources from us as well as from leading organisations in the design and circular economy landscape. This toolkit includes resources such as articles, videos, workshops and challenges that aim to inspire designers to take action and have tools to get started.”

In recent years, the importance of design for recycling has become increasingly clear, with consumers calling for clarity on what can and cannot be recycled. A study conducted by DS Smith found that 83 per cent of UK adults do not feel that they are certain on the recyclability of packaging, with 30 per cent claiming to throw their recyclables in the general waste.

Led by these results, DS Smith released a series of circular packaging design principles in May, to make recycling more straightforward for customers. In 2019, the British Plastics Federation tackled this issue at the initial stage of packaging design processes, releasing a sustainable design tool to enable manufacturers to improve the recyclability of plastic packaging.

Circular design principles have also been adopted in Westminster and beyond, with the government unveiling its ‘circular ambitions’ in its 2018 Resources and Waste Strategy, and more recently, the EU’s Circular Economy Action Plan.

To download the toolkit, or for more information about the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, you can visit the foundation's website.

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