The circular economy is a system that combines several environmentally focussed design methods into a single theory. It preaches the potential for a society in which all produced waste can be used again: "Waste is Food". It is best explained via the Butterfly Diagram by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (Only the technical cycle of the diagram is displayed).
Still this system can be rather confusing without a tangible example. We distilled the diagram into the 5 core principles that were applied to the design of our product which covers all loops/phases in the diagram. All 5 steps are explained below using our watch as the example.
Always try to use recycled and recyclable materials. This prevents unnecessary waste that may end up in the environment. Use as few different materials as possible. This makes reuse easier. If it is not possible, make sure that the materials can be separated, for example by not using permanent compounds as glue.
The casing is made of 100% recycled consumerwaste plastic sourced by the Dutch recycling company Coolrec. TV casings and refridgerators get a second life as a durable product. The colours are, as far as possible, sourced from special batches of coloured plastics such as suitcases.
Our wristband is made of a special type of leather. It consists of left-overs from the shoe industrie that are binded by natural latex. A wristband will always wear, which makes reusing hard. That is why we choose a biodegradable material that does not leave toxic traces in the environment.
To facilitate repairs and to enable the re-use of individual components, it is important that this mentality comes through in the design of the product. For example, do not use permanent fasteners such as glue or one-time click connections.
Next to the careful selection of materials, the design is very important. We limited the amount of parts and different materials in the product to improve recyclability. Because we use no glue, parts can be easily separated , which makes repaires easy and allows reuse of parts in new watches.
A large part of the circular economy is to preserve the value in a product. Make sure that parts are reusable so that they can be used in a new product. "Do not recycle what can be reused".
The movement is a part that we had to buy from an external party. To make the price affordable, a battery is a necessary evil. That is why we chose an energy saving Swiss movement that can run for 5 years at one battery. Next to that we reuse movements to maintain the value of the part and product.
In order to reuse or recycle all parts correctly, it is important that the product ends up with the right party after its lifetime. A good way to achieve this with a purchased product is a deposit or a buy-back guarantee.
To close the loop, a product alone is not enough. To maintain and preserve value as long as possible we give credits for maintenance and repairs. We also buy our watches back for €15 to regain all parts. Because of this we can reuse parts and recycle the materials properly. Visit the Service page for more info.
As a designer, it is usually difficult to carry out all recycling yourself. Therefore make use of existing infrastructure, for example glass or plastic collection by municipalities. You do not have to reinvent the wheel.
Where recycled materials are not possible, because they do not exist yet, we chose a material that at least can be recycled. The glass is made from normal glass and therefore can be collected through existing channels.