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On May 19th 2020, Liveworks invited Pieter van Exter from Metabolic to participate on a webinar focusing on an environmental perspectives of circular economy. According to the industrial ecologist expert “all that applies to the natural world, also applies to the industrial world”. Along with Sanne Pelgröm, senior service designer at Liveworks, Pieter van Exter analysed how to bring the shift to a circular economy forward by focusing on product lifecycle.

The cornerstone of industrial ecology is that our economy relies on natural resources. Thanks to those resources, we create every single product we use on a daily basis. Industrial ecology focused how to strengthen our economy by applying concepts normally associated with natural ecosystems. As a matter of fact, it is proven that in nature, the addition or subtraction of one single element can modify the whole ecosystem and that diversity participates to the reinforcement and the resilience of the system.

The challenge is to consider every aspects of the system, assuring the respect of fundamental values such as sustainability and durability.

It is essential to set goals including social and environmental sustainability. Metabolic defines circular economy with 7 pillars to ensure equity, reliance and transparency.

To design products in a circular economy, we need to take a step back and take a look at the system as a whole and re-think the utility of the product by asking ourselves “do we really need this?”.

The design process of a product happens most of the time in isolation but to accelerate the transition, it is vital to look for collaboration. Symbiosis can happen between different industries by exchanging resources to make new products. This will then minimize a lot of waste and CO2 emissions.