Ecodesign as Driver of Innovation in the BSR
EcoDesign Circle
 
PROGRAMME 2014-2020
priority
1 Innovation
objective
1.3 Non-technological innovation

EcoDesign Circle

The Interreg project Ecodesign Circle successfully introduced ecodesign thinking and acting to design centres and numerous design companies in five countries around the Baltic Sea, as well as to the Bureau of European Design Associations - a strong move towards a circular economy in Europe.
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 the 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.

Budgets

EcoDesign Circle
in numbers
  • 2.01
    Million
    Total
  • 1.54
    Million
    Erdf
  • 0.00
    Million
    Eni + Russia
  • 0.00
    Million
    Norway

Achievements

Design Centers developed tools and broadened their offers

By collaborating with environmental scientists, the design centres of Germany, Sweden, Finland, Estonia and Poland gained in depth knowledge of eco-design. Together they conceptionalised a splendid travelling exhibition on ecodesign for major design events that reached more than 20.000 visitors in six countries. Together they compiled material for an online training platform, the sustainability guide, which is now publically available. And together they coached selected companies in identifying their opportunities in circular economy. Some of the design centres – e.g. in Estonia and Finland – established services developed in the Ecodesign Circle project as part of their regular offer and secured national funding to continue promoting eco-design.

Small and medium sized companies were propelled towards sustainability

Ecodesign Circle involved 26 selected companies from Estonia, Finland, Lithuania and Sweden to test the newly developed business development tools of eco-design audit and eco-design sprint. The companies ranged from manufacturers of leather bags, of bedding, and of outdoor travel equipment, to developers of packaging solutions and of outdoor furniture to a construction company. In the audit and sprint processes, international teams assessed the ongoing businesses, trained the companies in eco-design thinking based on the jointly compiled sustainability guide, delivered consultancy, guided the design of prototypes and helped the companies pilot new business concepts. The SMEs thus pro-actively explored the possibilities and business models of the circular economy. Five companies invested in total some EUR 300.000 into a transition towards circular economy, namely into creating the position of a sustainability manager, into exchanging materials and the location of production, into changing towards a renewable energy source, into prototyping and even into developing new, circular services.

Eco-design anchored among designers on the European level

Ecodesign Circle reached beyond the countries involved as it anchored eco-design in the Bureau of European Design Associations (BEDA). BEDA is a Brussels based non-profit organisation that represents designers from industrial design and interiors to digital design. Due to the Ecodesign Circle project, BEDA has embraced eco-design as a new thematic cluster, i.e. a transnational network designated to bundle knowhow and competences in the field of eco-design. Via the BEDA network, the Ecodesign Circle results can spread across Europe.

The follow-up project EcoDesign Circle 4.0 goes beyond products by targeting services for a circular economy (e.g. car-sharing) and spreads the knowledge gained in a train the trainer package. With EUR 1.54 million of support from the European Union, the Interreg project Ecodesign Circle made a great solution towards a greener Europe, ecodesign, common practice in design centers of five countries around the Baltic Sea.

Outputs

Sustainability guide for (eco-)design

The Sustainability Guide is a website where companies, designers and lecturers at universities and art schools can find knowledge, tools and inspiration on how to work more sustainably in product and process design. The new website presents a wealth of eco-design related materials including business models for circular economy, principles of eco-design and cases of companies that have come far in applying eco-design in their work. You can find explanations of key design concepts such as design for longevity, practical check lists for product development, a series of explanatory videos and links to available information sources, e.g. on how to choose green materials. Designers in SMEs or others involved in product development can find out what it means to work in a circular instead of linear way.

Exhibition catalogue: Reconsider Design

The travelling exhibition “rECOnsider design” covered 30 eco-designed products available on the market in 2017. The products were arranged in four categories, namely “Learning - playing”, “Enabling moving”, “consuming – eating” , and “Dressing – wearing”. The exhibition was put together by the International design Center Berlin and the German Environment Agency with support of design centres in Poland, Estonia, Finland and Sweden to raise awareness of eco-design among design professionals. The exhibition made visitors reflect about their daily habits in order to reduce their negative impacts on the environment without sacrificing the quality of the products. Between 2017 and 2019, the exhibition attracted some 20.000 visitors when it was displayed at the annual Gdynia Design Forum (Poland), the Arctic Design Week in Rovaniemi (Finland), the European Energy Forum campus in Berlin (Germany), as well as in Kaunas (Lithuania), Tallinn (Estonia), and Borås (Sweden). The exhibition itself was entirely dismantled after its use, but the exhibition catalogue is still available for download in English with text versions in several other languages (German, Lithuanian, Polish and Swedish).

Ecodesign Audit

EcoDesign Audit is a diagnostic tool to integrate design thinking and circular economy requirements into an organisation’s product and service development process, in particular for small and medium sized enterprises. It follows a defined procedure described in the EcoDesign Audit Manual. The EcoDesign Audit helps any organization to analyse its current design capacity, strategy, practices and product/service development approaches. The audit recommendations will help the organisation to establish the basis for moving forward with product, service and business development. Recommendations may be further developed and implemented with EcoDesign Sprint. EcoDesign Audit has been developed by the Estonian Design Centre in cooperation with the Sustainable Design Lab of the Estonian Academy of Arts.

EcoDesign Sprint

EcoDesign Sprint is a training programme intended for SMEs and design agencies interested in the possibilities of circular economy. The primary goal of EcoDesign Sprint is to develop the business of SMEs and create more sustainable products and services for them. Another goal is to provide the participants with in-depth knowledge on the possibilities and business models of the circular economy. EcoDesign Sprint has been developed by the Design Forum Finland and is described in the booklet “Introduction to Ecodesign sprint.”

Project Stories

Partners

German Environment Agency

  • Town
    Dessau-Roßlau
  • Region
    Dessau-Roßlau, Kreisfreie Stadt
  • Country
    Germany
Approximate total partner budget in EUR
697,750.00
51.831110412.2429261

International Design Center Berlin (IDZ)

  • Town
    Berlin
  • Region
    Berlin
  • Country
    Germany
Approximate total partner budget in EUR
358,350.00
52.517036513.3888599

Estonian Design Centre

  • Town
    Tallinn
  • Region
    Põhja-Eesti
  • Country
    Estonia
Approximate total partner budget in EUR
130,000.00
59.437215524.7453688

Finnish Society of Crafts and Design / Design Forum Finland

  • Town
    Helsinki
  • Region
    Helsinki-Uusimaa
  • Country
    Finland
Approximate total partner budget in EUR
313,500.00
60.167488124.9427473

SVID, Swedish Industrial Design Foundation

  • Town
    Stockholm
  • Region
    Stockholms län
  • Country
    Sweden
Approximate total partner budget in EUR
353,000.00
59.325117218.0710935

Pomeranian Science and Technology Park Gdynia

  • Town
    Gdynia
  • Region
    Trójmiejski
  • Country
    Poland
Approximate total partner budget in EUR
150,587.00
54.516498218.5402738

Videos

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