The role of ecodesign in the Circular Economy

Many voices, including the European Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmerman, have stated that the future of the European economy is in the circular economy – in reusing and in putting things back into the economic cycle. This means rethinking the way we design, produce, consume and dispose of products and services. 

But moving from a linear economy model towards a circular economy model implies a number of important transformation changes, not only for products or services but also in new business models and the way all those involved interact. 

A circular design approach can play a leading role in achieving these changes. It is thus crucial to strengthen the role of design in public policies that boost circular economy. 

To that end, on June 16th the conference ‘The role of ecodesign in the Circular Economy’ took place in Brussels, organized by the Catalan Government in collaboration with BCD Barcelona Design Centre, and with the endorsement of BEDA The Bureau of European Design Association, the European Environment and Sustainable Development Advisory Councils (EEAC) and the Association for Cities and Regions for Recycling and Sustainable Resource Management (ACR+). 

Isabel Roig, CEO of BCD and past President of BEDA, introduced the BEDA Position Paper on Design & Circular Economy, which was in progress at that moment and will be launched this September. 

A high-level, international panel of speakers including Walter Stahel, Founder-director of The Product-Life Institute, Geneva; Ignasi Cubinyà, Founder of Ecointelligent Growth; Karolina D’Cunha, Deputy Head of Unit of Eco-Innovation & Circular, Directorate of Green Economy of DG ENV, European Commission; Josep Enric Llebot, Secretary of Environment and Sustainability of the Catalan Government; Carsten Wachholz, Resource use and EU Product Policy Officer, European Environmental Bureau (EEB); Ashima Sukhdev, Project lead, Ellen MacArthur Foundation; Christopher Harris, Head of Ecodesign, PDR, Cardiff Metropolitan University; and Lisa Labriga, Project Manager of ACR+, expressed their visions in front of an esteemed audience of representatives from the European Commission, policy makers, and representatives from business organisations and the design sector. 

Walter Stahel remembered the fathers of ecodesign in his presentation ‘good design has always been ecodesign’ (1990, Günther Horntrich, designer, Yellow, Cologne) while Karolina D’Cunha updated the audience on the next steps to be taken by the EC regarding the revision of the Circular Economy package at the end of this year. The conference was chaired by Arnau Queralt, Director of the Advisory Council for Sustainable Development of Catalonia (CADS). 

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