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"It's clear, recycling is only part of the solution" | Industry reacts to Circular Economy 101 Workshop

Tue 19 Jul 2022 | 01:49 pm GMT
Rob Hutchins | Products of Change Writer

The Circular Economy 101 Workshop took place at the Informa Offices in central London last week

Regenerative business practices, material innovation, and… self-steaming kettles. It was all up for discussion when members from across the Products of Change community gathered for the first ever in-person Circular Economy 101 Workshop last week. Hosted by Products of Change’s Advisors, Arthur Parry and June Kirkwood, the three-hour central London session welcomed executives, designers, and technical experts from some of the biggest names in the consumer products sector, including UPGS, Tesco, Topps, and Talking Tables. The session was curated by Products of Change to deliver an introduction to the basic principles of the Circular Economy as well as dispel the common myths associated with the much-adopted term ‘circularity’, significantly that ‘it is so much more than recycling.’ An intimate group of nine members from across the consumer product categories quickly filled the room with creative thinking, engaged discussion, and a business development workshop in which teams were tasked with redesigning an everyday item with circularity in mind.
Pictured left, Arthur Parry poses the question: What is the Circular Economy? Pictured right: Workshopping ideas to implement circular principles within everyday items.
Fundamental to the circular business model is that products and materials remain in the system at their highest value, while waste and pollution is eliminated. The circular economy has been gaining greater traction in the mainstream media in recent months thanks to a growth in recognition of the kind of platforms to be leading conversation around it. Little Loop, for example, a kids’ clothing subscription and rental platform, received mainstream media attention when its founder took to BBC’s Dragon’s Den to pitch the concept to investors. Meanwhile, the toy maker Mattel has been taking strides to promote circularity through its toy take back programme, Mattel PlayBack. It was initiatives like these that were used as real-world examples of the circular economy at play within the children’s toy and fashion markets, alongside others representative of models of best practice when it comes to reducing waste and maintaining product and material value.
June Kirkwood leads a group discussion over the basic principles of the circular economy.
David Warrington, Products Designer at The Topps Company, said: “As a designer at Topps, I found the circular Economy Workshop insightful, engaging, and well structured. The combination of presentation material, case studies, and group participation kept the session focussed and also gave chance for insight and ideas to be shared among the group. “The workshop demonstrated the importance of every design decision. Not only initial product design but also packaging, systems, process, and infrastructure design and collaboration can all have a part to play in ensuring a product retains its highest value state throughout its lifecycle. “It became clear that recycling is only one part of the puzzle and that embracing the full potential of a circular economy can bring benefit to customers, companies, and the environment.” The Circular Economy 101 Workshop took place at the Informa Offices on Blackfriars Road, London on Wednesday, July 13. Products of Change will release details of forthcoming 101 Workshops in the near future.
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