• 26 February 2021

    Circular Economy in rural areas

    By Jim MacNeil, Tondo Associate English Version Exploring circular economy in rural areas The use of real-world laboratories to experiment with alternative design, business models and economies While cities present unique challenges in transitioning to the circular economy, rural regions also face their own set of challenges in doing so. Mountains have always provided vital natural resources, social and economic services to communities. Mountain regions are primarily known for their tourism and concentrations of tertiary sector economies, which represent the main sources of income for many rural communities and has become the quick solution to increase the GDP of depopulating communities, a common trend of many mountain regions over the last half-century. In order to have resilient economies able to withstand unexpected and devastating events, firstly, there should be a certain degree of diversity where a system is not so reliant on one industry, and secondly, the system should be flexible in order to adapt to new modes of operating and respond adequately to these events. Circular systems, like natural systems, are intended to be collaborative. Therefore, as a society we also need a change in mindset away from the competitive nature of capitalist economies. In order to do this, businesses and communities should demonstrate the benefits of adapting a new collaborative approach. MonViso Institute (MVI) is an example of how rural actors are taking advantage of their geographical location not only as a centre of experimentation – providing students and visitors inspiration and tools for change, but also in their ability to be self-sufficient, which rural areas have as an advantage over their urban counterparts. MonViso Institute – Demonstrating Circular Solutions Nestled in the Po Valley at 1500 metres a.s.l. in the municipality of Ostana (Piedmont), Tobias Luthe and his group of researchers, designers and entrepreneurs are experimenting with...
  • 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...
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