Lecture: The Power of Recirculation

By Alice Beyer Schuch – March 2020

A 2002 report mentions that

“The rise in world affluence holds promise for better lives [but…] also comes with significant risks to ecosystems if prevailing patterns of consumption […] persist.”

[Tomorrow’s Markets: Global Trends and Their Implications for Business, World Resources Institute, 2002]

Almost 20 years later, few are the companies really tackling consumerism in the boardroom! And most of them would not imaging the huge impact all would face due to pandemic close downs. So, now, more than ever…

“If companies are to thrive in tomorrow’s markets, they need to acknowledge the planetary boundaries involved in producing more goods for more people! And they must face the current business dependency on consumption, embracing transformational business models.”

[The Elephant in the Boardroom, World Resources Institute, 2017]

This was the starting point of the lecture “The Power of Recirculation & the Role of the Designer” presented during the WORTH Weekend 2020, in Spain, as part of the WORTH Partnership Project, funded by COSME Programme of the European Union for the Competitiveness of SMEs.

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Lecture by Alice Beyer Schuch / Cirkla Modo 

The opportunity provided by the Circular Economy on recirculating materials, items and products within new business models may create value to companies without relying on sales only! And there are small steps to take! For example, circulating what already exists does not mean eliminating pollution – a circular principle – but it is a relevant transitional strategy to reduce the negative impact, including direct disposal, of what has already been produced! In this sense, consumers are seen rather as users, which will give back the resources to system once they are done with it.

Many are the key words to be considered in this matrix of recirculation: virtualization, durability, repair, reuse, sharing, recycle… Each of them offers an alternative to deal with current identified losses & opportunities [Sources: EMF 2017; GFA 2017; ThredUp 2019]:

  • USD   52 bi. –> profit loses by 2030 if business as usual persist
  • USD 460 bi. –> value of garments users throw away annually
  • USD 100 bi. –> landfill of materials annually
  • USD   32bi.  –> second-hand market value by 2020
  • USD   64bi.  –> second-hand market value by 2028

If companies are to reconsider their business it is fundamental to talk about the Role of the Designer, as they will support these new activities, powered by recirculation, to take place!

Video Vimeo pic
Introduction video of the lecture at Vimeo !

Among many Circular Design Strategies which can be implemented are:

  1. Design of short or long Durability : To reduce the need of replacement/consumption of new products/resources. It foresees the value of materials in the short term, or the extension of use in a long term.
  2. Design for Easy of Maintenance & Repair : It allows the extended use beside creating further business opportunities via repair services, extra replacement items/pieces and increased trust!
  3. Design for Updates & Adaptability : It goes further than use extension and new business opportunities with new products & services. It also amplifies the range of users, opening new markets.

And this is to mention only a few… Applying proper Circular Design Strategies allow products to feed this new economic system and generate value on different levels of the whole chain, tacking consumption within new parameters, without further exploiting social and natural resources. Time to strategically reframe fashion in a more future-oriented approach.

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Interested in knowing more about circular design? visit Cirkla Modo or get in contact to exchange on how circular fashion can be applied to your project.

If you are a STUDENT interested in circularity and/fashion, check Cirkla Modo’s special offers for you!

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Cirkla Modo’s founder Alice Beyer Schuch is a proud Steering Board Member and mentor of WORTH program offering expert input in the field of fashion and circular economy, together with renowned experts active in the lifestyle industry.

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