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Different approaches to create a Circular Economy

What are some methodologies and models that have a good chance at producing the results we need from this Circular Design Challenge?

Photo of Juan Forno
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Something that I think might be useful to share in this Research Phase is some different schools of thought that we can think of when creating a Circular Economy. 

1) Creating Shared Value (CSV): 

This concept, pioneered by Michael E. Porter (mostly recognized for the Porter's Five Forces analysis), is essentially a business strategy that gives companies a way to view social problems as opportunities. By balancing social needs, corporate assets, and business opportunities, CSV can create an incentive for companies to create "real change on monumental social problems". 

2) Biomimicry:

In short, biomimicry is "Innovation inspired by nature". If we think about it, nature has spent almost 3.8 billion years in developing a 100% sustainable ecosystem that does not produce waste and is not harmful for the environment. Nature has no traffic jams, waste landfills, or overproduction. Asking "what can we learn from nature?" or "how would nature solve this?" would be a wise approach to this Challenge. It is important to understand that a sustainable world already exists, the answers to the question, "how to live more sustainable?", are found in nature. 

3) Cradle to Cradle (C2C): 
C2C is a concept that was developed by William McDonough and Michael Braungart, that is a biomimetic approach to the design of products and systems. The reason why there is so much plastic waste is because it is near to impossible for nature to break down something that it isn't created by nature. The essence of this model is that it asks "how can waste be food?". Just like one animal's feces is another animal's source of nutrients, C2C challenges us to think about how our waste can be of value to something or someone else. A radical and somewhat non-related example is how shelter dogs are paired with inmates to be part of Progressive Programs. In this example dog, viewed as a societal waste (rescued from high-kill shelters), are of tremendous value to imprisoned people whose need was to rehabilitate. Another way to use C2C is by referring to what the video says about making ALL materials belong in a continuous cycle for either proper dissembling or re-use.

How does this research relate to our Use Cases?

It gives our community an introduction of methods and approaches that are sustainable, and in some ways even lucrative,to solve environmental and social challenges that we are presented with today.

What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

Although end-of-pipe solutions have merit and value, I think that we shouldn't be spending time making these better for they do not present an effective or long-term solution (at least not yet). We need to stop thinking in terms of evolution of faulty models and start thinking in terms of revolutionizing our approaches. My hope is that these schools of thought inspire new ideas that actually work.

Tell us about yourself

I'm a recent grad from ASU and I am from Guatemala. I have a degree in Business Entrepreneurship and International Business but I am passionate about developing projects that make an impact. I am also thinking about starting an OpenIDEO chapter in Arizona if anyone wants to connect!


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Photo of Kate Rushton

Hi Juan,

This is a fantastic post with lots of inspiration that will help guide the community going into the ideas phase.

Have you thought of any innovative business models you could use for the use cases in the challenge in terms of delivery of the actual product to the consumer -

I just want to highlight Splosh to you (in case you haven't seen it on the splash page for the challenge) -
This is an innovative business model for the delivery of toiletries.

It is great that you want a Chapter in Arizona. Where are you located in Arizona?

Photo of Juan Forno

Kate Rushton Thank you! Hopefully people use these :)

I have actually seen a case were biomimicry is sort of used in a micro level to answer the Design Challenge question: "how to get products to people without generating plastic waste?" especially in produce:

Using things found in nature to keep products safe INSTEAD of artificial ways, can not only save money but contribute to a greener world. Which also solves another waste problem: Food Waste.

In terms of original ideas, I am going to be hosting a sort of think tank with some of my friends to come up with things that have these three models as their backbone. The biggest challenge is that nature behaves different than we do. They do not have products or rely on anything produced unnaturally. So we really have to apply some design thinking! But ideas will come soon :)

I live in Tempe near Phoenix. I am on a temporary international work permit so I want to make sure there is someone that could take the reigns if I am no longer able to stay in the country.

Photo of Kate Rushton

Hi Juan,

Thank you for the update. Tell me how the Think Tank goes. We do have an Outpost page where you can post events - - especially if you are thinking of having a Chapter.

I wish you luck in the work permit situation.

Photo of Teo John

Hi Juan,

You may want to read this article about regenerative design authored by Dr. Daniel Christian Wahl.

I like your idea about a think tank. Maybe a virtual global think tank is more inclusive (e.g using social media).

With awe and respect,

John Teo

Photo of Juan Forno

Teo John , Thanks for sharing this excerpt. I had no idea about the CE 100 initiative and it is something that I will keep in mind for future business ventures. We are working on logistics for a think tank and we may use the ASU's university facilities to host it because they have access to virtual conference equipment.

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