Incorporating circularity in modern-day product design

Incorporating circularity as a crucial aspect of modern-day design: A circular economy eliminates waste, extends product life, repurpose products and materials, and regenerates nature. We provide some practical advice for businesses trying to become more circular.

Share this article:

Circularity is a crucial aspect of modern-day design.

Our economy is linear: We take materials from the earth → Turn them into goods → Return them to the earth as waste. With finite resources, that can’t continue.

A circular approach to product development BREAKS that straight line by:

🌱 Designing out waste – using durable, non-toxic materials and methods.

🌱 Extending the life of products – efficient use, redistribution, and recycling.

🌱 Regenerative nature – Returning waste material to nature in a non-harmful way.

🌱 Repurposing products – extending a product’s lifetime with new, additional uses.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so here’s the best diagram (courtesy of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation) we’ve found that explains the circular concept.

Image visualising the circular economy by the Ellen Macarthur Foundation. Source:

Our advice for businesses trying to be more circular

1.   Take a holistic approach: You can’t be circular in isolation – analyse your whole chain and ecosystem.
2.   Understand your waste: Both your carbon impact AND your material impact.
3.   Learn about sustainability legislation: Understand its impact, now and in the future.
4.   Test and learn: Start now, taking small steps you can scale later.

You might also like…

NPD team discussing the crucial role of user-centric and fail fast approaches
User-centric and fail fast approaches in NPD

As businesses seek to find new ways to deliver value and connect with their customers, we talk about the crucial role of user-centric and fail fast approaches.

Laptop showing ChatGPT browser
IP and AI: who owns AI generated works?

Since the launch of ChatGPT in late 2022, the power of AI has been at the forefront of peoples’ minds. One of the many questions asked is ‘who owns work produced by AI?’ so we spoke to UK and European Patent Attorney, Oliver Pooley, at Barker Brettell.

Designers discussing product features when writing a product design brief
Writing an effective product design brief

From the earliest stage, designs need to be rooted in realism, simply because products have to be manufactured and be commercially successful. When writing a design brief, ensure it covers the essentials by asking three important questions.