Photo by Elena Gontarenko. On the image, Anne Raudaskoski from Ethica Finland during an EcoDesign Sprint in St. Petersburg (Feb 2020), courtesy of EcoDesign Circle 4.0
EcoDesign Circle (4.0) is the successor of EcoDesign Circle, a Baltic Sea Region project that ran from 2016- 2019. A decade of successful promotion of ecodesign by the project’s lead partner, the German Environment Agency and the International Design Center, Berlin enabled the extension and expansion of the project to include partners in Estonia, Finland, Germany, Lithuania, Poland, Russia and Sweden.
The idea of the initiative… came from the heightened interest of professionals specialised in environmental issues and design questions and the desire to take things further.
To increase the capacity of design centres, design professionals and enterprises in ecodesign and enable advanced innovation performance.
To bring together and consolidate the expert community from universities and consulting companies operating in the fields of circular economy, sustainable development and the design industry.
Innovation and inspirational know how…
Russian partner Medina Art organized the participatory training session the EcoDesign Learning Factory for experts.
First Furniture Factory LLC (Saint-Petersburg) focused on development of new products and service offers based on the EcoDesign Audit and EcoDesign Sprint technologies.
An overview was undertaken of legislative acts and support measures available in the Russian Federation in the field of sustainable development and circular economy.
The capacity to use instruments to innovate products and circular business models was raised as EcoDesign Audit & Sprint tools were elaborated and piloted.
The increase in capacities of design centres to translate the know-how of environmental scientists into business reality.
Photo courtesy of EcoDesign Circle 4.0
Challenges… Working in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As inter-regional project, there were also language barriers in the learning and knowledge transfer processes.
A relatively low level of awareness among businesses about the importance, relevance and benefits of eco-design and circular economy approaches.
Meeting the Challenges… Promoting interdisciplinary cooperation to tackle challenges from different angles, leading to more robust solutions.
Developing a sound marketing and communication strategy.
Networking! Create structures to build upon, reach like-minded peers to further sustain, develop and disseminate the results.
Monitoring and evaluation, checklists and indicators to understand the impact right from the start.
Finding support for activities with tangible results in the local contexts.
Physical presence meetings are helpful, when possible, to establish trust and understanding at the outset.
Photo courtesy of EcoDesign Circle 4.0
The establishment of a network of design centres with interfaces between design and business, universities, research centres, public agencies, consultancies and NGOs.
Interdisciplinary collaboration practiced in the EcoDesign Learning Factory tested in four countries.
By May 2020, 131 SMEs had received support raising their capacities in ecodesign principles and application.
New products and services (prototypes) developed in construction, packaging, furniture, food, clothing, camping equipment.
Trained experts and connections to other initiatives and actors in the region.
Products developed in the pilot have considerable export potential.
The Swedish design centre SVID further developed an existing web portal into the present Sustainability Guide that provides inspiration, methods and support about ecodesign in a way that is relevant for designers and SMEs.
And the future…
- Ecodesign / Circular Design taught as standard practice across design schools;
- More consumer awareness and demand for circular services;
- Some great, profitable business models to use as best practice examples.
- Service design that establishes links to digital infrastructure and online platforms.
- Further increasing the number of experts and trainers with dual knowledge- both design and circular economy.
German Environment Agency
EcoDesign Circle Coordinator