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  • 15 January 2021

    Industrial Ecology and CE

    Industrial Ecology: A foundation for envisioning and measuring the Circular Economy transition By Shyaam Ramkumar – Tondo Associate English Version The concept of a circular economy has been quickly gaining momentum in recent years. Many local and national governments, companies from startups to SMEs to multinational corporations, and a growing number of NGOs such as Tondo are driving the push for a transformation of our current economic model towards one that is more circular, regenerative, and resilient. However, the theoretical and conceptual foundations of the circular economy have a much longer history. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation lists seven different schools of thought that make up the basic tenets of the circular economy, one of which is Industrial Ecology. Industrial Ecology became a prominent concept with the publication of an article by Robert Frosch and Nicholas Gallopoulos in Scientific American titled “Strategies for Manufacturing”. In the article, Frosch and Gallopoulos conceptualize how industrial systems could behave more like ecological systems. Similar to the symbiotic relationships found in nature where wastes of one species are resources for another, they pondered how outputs and wastes from one industry could be inputs into another industry. The field has since evolved to encompass a set of tools and methods that can help transform value chains across cities, regions, and countries to become more circular. These tools and methods can provide a foundation for envisioning and measuring the circular economy transition. Life Cycle Analysis One of the main methods within Industrial Ecology is Life Cycle Analysis, or LCA. Using the LCA methodology, enables the assessment of the environmental impacts across the whole lifecycle of a product, process, or service. The methodology creates a detailed inventory of all the resources, energy, and materials required from extraction and processing to the production, distribution, use, and disposal of the...
  • 8 January 2021

    Eco-Design or Circular Design?

    By Simone Bambagioni – Tondo Associate English Version Ecological design – or eco-design – is certainly one of the key enablers for a transition towards a circular economy. Yet, is it the best alternative to make fully circular products? Eco–design is an approach to designing products with special consideration for the environmental impacts of the product during its whole lifecycle. As described in the European Waste Framework Directive, it is based on a hierarchical structure of waste management that goes, in order of priority, from the prevention of waste (best option) to reuse, recycling, other recovery and disposal (worst option). However, this process relies on the assumption that the concept of waste still exists and will inevitably persist. However, in an ideal Circular Economy based future, products and materials are reused and cycled indefinitely, eliminating as a consequence the very concept of waste. Therefore, in order to have a truly Circular Product Design, we need to introduce a further concept – what Walter Stahel calls the Principle of Inertia. According to it, a product must maintain its original state (or a state as close as possible to the original one) for as long as possible, in order to minimize and ideally eliminate the environmental costs when performing interventions to preserve or restore the product’s added economic value overtime. In this context, product lifecycle is no longer linked to functionality, but rather to the obsolescence. Products, indeed, can become obsolete for many reasons (technologically outdated, outmoded, outlawed, lost of economic value, etc.) while maintaining their original functionality. This means that the state of obsolescence does not necessarily have to be permanent. It can often be reversed, giving the product a new lease of life. As long as this process stands, a single product can have several use cycles during its lifetime. And...
  • 1 January 2021

    KAFFEEFORM

    English Version Winter is coming and the cold weather with it as well which encourages all of us to look for something to keep us warm. For instance, a blanket, a jumper, a pair of soft and thick socks or a hot drink. Indeed, one of the most popular beverages in the world is coffee which, actually, has no seasonality anymore. Coffee has been consumed for over 1000 years now and around two billion cups are drunk everyday worldwide. This makes coffee the most consumed beverage and the second largest traded commodity after oil. According to the International Coffee Organization, Europe accounted for 34% of global coffee consumption in 2019, followed by Asia and Oceania, Latin America and North America. Therefore, the European Union has the world’s highest per capita consumption with 5kg of coffee per person per year, which is surprisingly high. The increasing production and consumption of this beverage comes with the consequent huge generation of spent coffee grounds left from coffee brewing. According to Solange et al., 6 million tons of spent coffee grounds are generated every year worldwide thus resulting in a great amount of unused organic waste. Spent coffee grounds are usually known and used for their natural and strong properties as fertilizer for gardens, plants and compost. However, over the last years numerous researchers and companies have been focusing on other possible ways to benefit from such waste. For instance, coffee residues can be exploited in pharmaceutical industry, in the food sector or in bio-refineries and for a variety of different products such as the coffee cups created by KAFFEEFORM. THE KAFFEEFORM STORY KAFFEEFORM was born in Berlin from the initial vision of creating something new and lasting out of supposed waste. It all started with Julian Lechner, product designer, who after years of...
  • 25 December 2020

    Two concepts for the same goal?

    By Alessandro Arlati – Research Assistant at HCU, Department of Urban Planning and Regional Development English Version During the last decade, Circular Economy (CE) has more and more affirmed its relevance as a conceptual framework for supporting future sustainable development in our cities. The Ellen McArthur Foundation, as a way to eschew the take-make-waste mentality that has largely characterized our economic systems, defined CE paradigm in 2013. The CE paradigm claims for a change (often referred to as “transition”) from a linear economy, not only by mitigating and adjusting its negative impacts. It implies a more profound systemic shift, aiming at building “long-term resilience, generate business and economic opportunities, and provide environmental and societal benefits”. Yet, CE is not alone in this objective. Many other concepts are paving their way in the attempt of countering the negative impacts of the society we are living in. Among others, Nature-based Solutions (NBS) are becoming a fancy answer to address various societal challenges by imitating nature. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) defined the main objective of NBS implementation in its ability to support the achievement of society’s development goals and safeguard human well-being providing simultaneously economic, social and environmental benefits. Now it is worth asking ourselves whether there is a synergy between these two concepts. Looking at the definitions and the objectives that both CE and NBS are aiming at, it does not sound absurd. Furthermore, it is important to mention at this point, that both CE and NBS were included in the EU research and innovation programmes (e.g. Horizon 2020) in 2015. Yet, the series of projects started within these programmes have taken two definite and distinct directions: in other words, the two concepts do not figure out as connected in some way. However, it is possible to identify...
  • 18 December 2020

    Circular Materials

    By Marco Capellini – CEO at MATREC English Version The article is based on Marco Capellini’s intervention at the second edition of Re-think-Circular Economy Forum last October 2020. Marco split his speech in 3 chapters. The first one, called “We can’t change what we can’t measure” is an extremely important topic that allows us to understand how the design of a product can measure the efficient use of resources. Why it is important to apply circularity measurement models? First of all, because circular economy must offer us tangible results in order to quantify the resources used; secondly, because it enables companies to define improvement strategies. Thirdly, to communicate clearly the results obtained, fourthly, to quantify the economic cycle of resources used in the input and output process. As Matrec, they are developing different projects to measure the circularity of the product: furniture, fashion services, food and others with particular attention to the type of material used. Generally they face 2 problems: many companies don’t know about circular economy business models and they think circular economy is just recycling waste; many companies don’t know how to apply the circular economy to product or services. For this reasons, Marco has designed a roadmap that let companies get a first view of circular economy and understand which KPI should be used for a metric definition. This roadmap could be an opportunity to understand the approaches to follow in a product circularity measurement project and choose the most coherent route to apply to products. The best solution would be consider all these aspects but this requires a lot of time and expenses. It is important to contextualize the product step by step, trying to improve the scope of measurement. For example it is possible to start with a qualitative approach and then move on...
  • 20 November 2020

    Digital Platforms

    By Ghali Egger English Version The need to shift to an economy that is circular and inclusive has become inevitable. At the same time there are a lot of hurdles which are hindering us from it and making this transition one of today’s greatest challenges. Among them for example there is the current linear economic model which does not value natural capital; this information does not flow with products and material down the value chain and that customers lack awareness, capacities and convenience to actively contribute to a Circular Economy.  Digital solutions like online platforms, artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of things (IoT) and blockchain are already used to support Circular Economy initiatives, but the potential is even greater. If adequately steered, data and digitally enabled solutions could contribute to a system-wide transition and further enhance connectivity and the sharing of information across the value chains; make products, processes and services more circular; and empower citizens and consumers to contribute to the transition.  For this reason, the transition to a Circular Economy and the digitalisation of the economy and society should be aligned in order to benefit the environment, society and economy.  One of the ways digitalisation can enable the Circular Economy transition is in the form of digital platforms that are used for industrial symbiosis. Industrial symbiosis is a powerful approach to accelerate and scale the Circular Economy by closing resource cycles and valuing materials that would otherwise be discarded. In fact, waste is not seen as waste any longer but as a resource at the wrong place. Materials that cannot be used anymore by a company, can constitute a secondary raw material for another company. The digital platform in turn, is enabling and facilitating the process of material exchange and data flow between the companies.  The expression “symbiosis”...
  • 30 September 2020

    ZEROBARRACENTO

    English Version ZEROBARRACENTO is a gender-neutral zero-waste brand envisioning outerwear as a service. The fundamental values of the company are 0% waste and gender on the one side, and 100% traceability, transparency and inclusiveness on the other side. In addition, the hundred percent stand for 100% sustainability, an issue that has been at the core of the brand since the beginning. Following the product principles of the brand, the clothing lines need to be clean, essential and sourced locally. Therefore, the company is exclusively using materials coming from certified suppliers. To guarantee short transportation ways, every step of the design, product development and manufacturing takes place in Italy and factories are chosen in such a way that they are close to the place where the raw materials have been sourced. Moreover, the selected suppliers operate in the cities/regions which show the highest level of expertise in working with sustainable materials. For the organic and recycled wools, Biella and Prato have been chosen as supplier districts for instance. All material inputs are certified, of high quality and flow through a production/consumption chain that is circular. In addition, every product is self-complementary, designed to last and fully traceable throughout the value chain. One of the materials is Newlife™, a certified yarn, made from 100% post-consumer bottles. The patterns of the textiles are developed with a zero-waste design technique that eliminates textile waste at the design stage, an approach that contributes to reduce the use of natural resources. Usually, around 15% of textiles go wasted in the production process of fashion clothes. The technique involves eliminating waste by removing accessories (no buttons, no zippers, no hooks and eyes) and included the selvedge when sewing the garments. This way the final products are finished up with just a few seams. The packaging is made...
  • 15 September 2020

    Innovation Call

    English Version At Tondo we support changemakers and therefore we are pleased to announce an Innovation Call with a focus on the Circular Economy and related to our main event Re-think Circular Economy Forum! Startups that carry out activities related to the Circular Economy can apply to the Innovation Call organized by Tondo with different partners. The call aims to select highly innovative projects that are feasible from a business point of view and capable of generating a strong positive impact on the environment. The call is open to the startups that are already established, or innovative ideas which are not yet materialized and which are operating in the thematic macro-areas that will be discussed during Re-think Circular Economy Forum (Agri-food, Cities, Materials and Technology), the event on the Circular Economy organized by Tondo on October 27th and 28th. The call might give to the selected startups the possibility to pitch during the main event and, in addition, the four winning startups (one for each macro-area) will receive some services from our partners (such as strategic and commercial support, help in applying to national and European grants,…), and a cash prize of 1.500 € will be awarded to the one that will achieve the highest score by the innovation jury. The macro-areas of the event, that are also the main focus of the Innovation Call are: Agri-food: agriculture 4.0, new types of cultivation such as Indoor and Vertical farming, and new methods of food preservation and transportation; Cities: urban context organized in a circular way, presenting actual projects, but also possible future trends with a focus on smart cities, mobility, biocycle & waste, urban, water, and air; Materials: biomaterials that are increasingly replacing synthetic ones, emerging practices in the reuse and regeneration of materials (organic and synthetic) and future trends in material science; Technologies: emerging...
  • 4 September 2020

    ilVespaio

    English Version ilVespaio is a network of free-lance designers with a focus on ecodesign and sustainability. A team of creatives, researchers and educators promotes awareness on social and environmental issues, organizing workshops, events, contests and educational exhibitions with companies, local authorities, schools and families. Why ilVespaio? IlVespaio was founded by the graphic designer Stefano Castiglioni and the product designer Alessandro Garlandini in 2008, based on the idea of designing and producing promotional merchandise made of re-used production scraps and other materials. A circular promotional item unique and customized, instead than cheap junk imported from Asia. We called ourselves ilVespaio, the Italian word for wasp nest, because we were looking for a name from the natural world recalling movement, dynamism and creative chaos. Wasps are usually considered useless, annoying insects. However, they are very important for the ecosystem and for impollination, but, unlike bees, they proudly refuse to be tamed and don’t like to work for humans. They use attics to create their nests, instead! Our first project was a production of bags for the Provincia di Varese made of reused non-woven banners, reclaimed along the race route during the Varese World Championship Road Race 2008. Since then, we did many projects all sharing the same approach based on interactivity, playfulness, and care for design and graphics. The team has grown: designers Sebastiano Ercoli and Clara Giardina and videomaker Luca Orioli joined ilVespaio and other collaborators are helping us on specific projects. We strongly believe that citizens play a crucial role in the transition towards circular economy and that we need to focus on education especially of children and new generations. We have developed projects to raise awareness on environmental issues and to promote conscious behaviours. Every medium is strategic to convey messages that are important to us: exhibitions, outdoor events,...
  • 27 July 2020

    CE and COVID-19

    By Alexandra Kekkonen – Tondo’s associate English Version What have we learned about Circular Economy from COVID crisis? The massive disruption of the global value chains in the result of the measures taken by the governments to address the Covid-19 crisis has revealed the fragility of our lineal global economy model and productive arrangements linked to a single geographic location and a single supplier, high degree of dissolution of our innovation, production, supply and consumption systems. (Serada, 2020) It has raised the concerns about the resilience of our economies and led to intensification of such trends as diversification of sourcing and supplies, reshoring, developing strategic autonomy in the critical sectors, intensifying automation, transforming supply chains into more simple, digital, regional more transparent, facilitated by the new delivery modes and contactless innovations. The experiences obtained during the COVID 19 crisis have reaffirmed – there is a need of the great reset and building a more resilient, just, responsive and sustainable economies. Circular Economy is increasingly considered a valuable option allowing to collectively reimagine and redesign our systems to ensure an ecologically safe and socially just space for all. The circular economy also now has the opportunity and duty to further incorporate equality and resilience into this model.  Product design and product policy factors such as repairability, reusability and potential for remanufacturing offer considerable opportunities to enhance stock availability and, therefore, resilience. Rethinking business models in terms of the circular economy presents many opportunities to improve competitiveness, efficiency, innovation and sustainability including through facilitating an access to and shared use of underutilized products.  Circular supplies represent a model for developing components that are reusable and recyclable at the end of a product’s life.  Product life extension prolongs the useful life of a product through improved product design and long-term maintenance.   Resource recovery...
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