EcoDesign Circle 4.0 – Ecodesign as a Driver of Circular Economy 4.0 in the Baltic Sea Region
EcoDesign Circle 4.0
 
PROGRAMME 2014-2020
priority
1 Innovation
objective
1.3 Non-technological innovation

EcoDesign Circle 4.0

EcoDesign Circle 4.0 helped design centers, industrial designers and companies to integrate services and digital tools in development of solutions.
The opportunity

Eco-design is design for a circular economy

Eco-design is one way to move our societies towards a circular economy. An eco-designed product is designed in a way that it lasts long, can be easily repaired and at the end of its life, it can be rapidly disassembled and its materials can be managed through existing recycling systems without leaving behind harmful waste. Eco-design items of today are by and large non-technological, often mass products for everyday life, e.g. plates, pillows, clothes or benches.

Eco-design knowledge needs to be translated into business reality

Until recently, eco-design was only sparsely applied. Small and medium-sized enterprises are focused on traditional linear business models in which products are short-lived and materials are typically discarded as waste. However, know-how concerning the environmental impact of products, how to assess the impact and how to reduce it is available. The challenge is to translate environmental science into business reality.

Professional networks for design can make a difference

Design centres from five countries around the Baltic Sea got together with environmental scientists to expand their eco-design expertise and to promote the use of eco-design among their national networks of design companies. Design centres are typically non-profit networks or associations for design professionals. Most design centres lacked the instruments to support their affiliate companies in eco designing innovative products. The design centres’ primary aim was to introduce and expand the use of eco-design among designers and bring it into the core operations of companies.

EcoDesign Circle 4.0 focuses on services and digital platforms

The project EcoDesign Circle recently set up a Learning Factory Ecodesign. In addition, it helped to improve the competencies of design centers, industrial designers and companies to develop circular products. EcoDesign Circle 4.0 goes beyond products by targeting services for a circular economy and spreads the knowledge gained in a train-the-trainer package.

Budgets

EcoDesign Circle 4.0
in numbers
  • 0.77
    Million
    Total
  • 0.51
    Million
    Erdf
  • 0.09
    Million
    Eni + Russia
  • 0.00
    Million
    Norway

Achievements

Service and digitalisation in the spotlight

The EcoDesign Circle 4.0 project gathered design centres, design practitioners, research institutions and public authorities from Estonia, Finland, Germany, Poland, Russia and Sweden to apply methods and approaches to the development of circular business solutions in design. The main focus was on developing a service-minded approach and integrating digital technologies in circular business models. The project collected inspiring stories and business cases from different sectors to showcase concrete solutions. Thus, in clothing the partners introduced a digital platform as a service for material suppliers, sorters, recyclers and other users. While in electronics, the partner organisations created a platform for repair solutions for electrical devices. Find out more here.

 

Training empowers to work sustainably

Besides, the project organised four transnational and two national train-the-trainers workshops for design agencies, service designers, innovation centers, SMEs and other experts from the design and sustainability fields. The focus of the training was on the development of a service approach, how to work sustainably and how to integrate digital technologies in processes. As regards the digital dimension in service offers development, the trainers referred to the emerging digital infrastructure such as web-based platforms, applications, internet of things, blockchain technologies, industry 4.0.

 

Besides, the focus of the trainings was adapted to the trainees´ needs. While design SMEs learned about the ecological aspects of design, the invited sustainability experts got a chance to better understand designers´ working methods. In addition, the training addressed even public authorities. It aimed to raise their awareness about the circular economy and how ecodesign can contribute to the transition from linear to a circular economy. A better understanding of ecodesign can trigger new funding schemes and resources for ecodesign start-ups.

 

Transnational outreach matters

The material developed by the preceding project, specifically on audit-sprint approach for SMEs, was further transferred to such geographical areas as Germany and Russia. In Russia, the audit-sprint tool was applied in the wood processing industry and supported the ongoing national transformation to circular economy. In Germany, mutual learning was implemented through transnational pilots. A variety of stakeholders learnt - by observing or doing - how others applied a certain ecodesign approach and then adapted it to their own context in the next pilot. As an example, the team worked on a transnational pilot for a German enterprise in the shared mobility context with an Estonian-German trainer tandem.

Besides, the project transferred best practices through sharing posts via social media, blogs and storytelling. As regards the storytelling, it comprised 36 interview-based cases as well as 8 success stories of the German Ecodesign Award.

Outputs

EcoDesign Service 4.0 Toolset

“4.0 toolset” aims to adapt the complexity of the circular economy theme to a broad audience with different knowledge levels and professional experiences. The toolkit contains tools, methods and approaches of the EcoDesign Learning Factory and the EcoDesign Audit-Sprint. The material was developed based on interviews with experts from design and sustainability and in close collaboration with service-design agencies. In the toolkit, designers, entrepreneurs, producers, start-ups and other eco-developers and eco-experts can get inspiration by viewing “Circular Design Pitch” or find for example an assessment instrument “Circular product & service assessment”. Another example is “From (EcoDesign) Idea to Market” which helps to assess various aspects of ecodesign, its benefits and economic feasibility.

Train-the-Trainers package

Train-the-trainer workshops were organised in Estonia, Finland, Germany, Poland, Russia and Sweden. They accommodated a broad audience consisting of design agencies, sustainability consultants, business representatives (e.g. manufacturing), public authorities. The experts had access to peer learning, exchange of best practices, discussion of the used methods and overall comprehension of the developments within circular economy. In view of the high interest (about 200 participants), similar workshops can be organised on request and offered via the project partner organisations.

EcoDesign Recommendations for Policy and Finance

The publication compiles 17 good policy and cooperation cases based on interviews from the local level (e.g. from the cities of Lahti, Gdynia, Warsaw, Helsinki, Vienna, Gothenburg, Norrköping), to the regional level (e.g. Regional Authority of Västra Götaland), to the national level (e.g. with SITRA and the Green Tiger Movement in Estonia) and international level (e.g. the SUSTAINORDIC initiative in the Nordic countries). The report contains facts, cases of circular services from enterprises, policy tools and cooperation models. Furthermore, the latest developments on the EU level (e.g. European Green Deal or Circular economy action plan (2020)) serve as a basis for the recommendations.

Project Stories

Partners

German Environment Agency

  • Town
    Dessau-Roßlau
  • Region
    Dessau-Roßlau, Kreisfreie Stadt
  • Country
    Germany
Approximate total partner budget in EUR
202,952.49
51.831110412.2429261

International Design Center Berlin (IDZ)

  • Town
    Berlin
  • Region
    Berlin
  • Country
    Germany
Approximate total partner budget in EUR
90,479.00
52.517036513.3888599

Estonian Design Centre

  • Town
    Tallinn
  • Region
    Põhja-Eesti
  • Country
    Estonia
Approximate total partner budget in EUR
49,475.81
59.437215524.7453688

Technische Universität Berlin

  • Town
    Berlin
  • Region
    Berlin
  • Country
    Germany
Approximate total partner budget in EUR
105,065.00
52.517036513.3888599

Finnish Society of Crafts and Design / Design Forum Finland

  • Town
    Helsinki
  • Region
    Helsinki-Uusimaa
  • Country
    Finland
Approximate total partner budget in EUR
84,500.00
60.167488124.9427473

SVID, Swedish Industrial Design Foundation

  • Town
    Stockholm
  • Region
    Stockholms län
  • Country
    Sweden
Approximate total partner budget in EUR
84,600.00
59.325117218.0710935

Pomeranian Science and Technology Park Gdynia - budgetary unit of the Municipality of Gdynia

  • Town
    Gdynia
  • Region
    Trójmiejski
  • Country
    Poland
Approximate total partner budget in EUR
53,000.00
54.516498218.5402738

Medina Art Ltd.

  • Town
    Saint Petersburg
  • Region
    City of St. Petersburg
  • Country
    Russian Federation
Approximate total partner budget in EUR
99,750.00
59.91785735000000630.380619357025516

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