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New designs for a circular economy

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If you haven’t already come across the term ‘circular economy’, it’s technically a pretty simple concept to grasp. In a nutshell, the term refers to an entirely different approach to resource use than the standard ‘linear’ economy that powers today’s world.

In a linear economy, resources and products are created, used and disposed of. They may be recycled, repurposed or simply thrown out once and for all, but the cycle is relatively short. In a circular economy by contrast, additional efforts are made to ensure that all resources/products are kept in use for as long as possible. Along with maximising the life of any given resource, the products in question may be made using fewer strategic materials in the first place and have the potential to be fully recycled or reused, over and over again.

Suffice to say, it’s conventional recycling taken to a whole new level and a concept that could help mould a better future for the planet as a whole.

These videos are examples of innovations that have taken part in the New Designs for a Circular Economy competition:

A Better Kettle

Though universally relied upon by 97% of homes across the UK, the humble kettle is both taken for granted and incredibly inefficient. Not in their actual energy-efficiency, but the way in which they are usually impossible to repair, have short lifespans and make it very difficult to be in any way accurate when it comes to boiling the required amount of water only.

This ambitious team of researchers has set its sights on revolutionising the kettle as we currently know it, creating a better, more efficient and longer-lasting appliance for the future.

Circular design for an economy power tool

The vast majority of economy power tools are thrown away at the first sign of a problem, due to the nigh-on impossibility of carrying out repairs. In addition, most components and materials used in the first instance cannot be recycled.

Highlighting the potential for 3D printing in design and innovation, this research team has begun producing prototype power tools that are both simpler to repair and less taxing on the environment in the first place.

Bottle Alley Glass

Glass wastage in the United Kingdom is epidemic – we even send epic amounts of the stuff overseas for recycling, rather than doing it here. This is nothing short of tragic, given the fact that glass is one of very few materials that do not lose any of their properties (strength, versatility etc.) during the recycling process. Bottle Alley Glass however is championing change, having turned its attention to better-utilising glass resources in the UK and closing the loop on glass use.

Taking things so much further than conventional glass reuse efforts, Bottle Alley Glass produce stunning home decorating and improvement products – many of which do not in fact look anything like glass upon completion.

Closed loop LED bulb

Last but not least, LED lighting may have revolutionised the way we look at lighting for the better, but this video proves that there’s still so much to do in furthering circular economy efforts. Energy wastage is still rife, which is precisely why forward-thinking design and innovation like this are of such importance for future generations.

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