Raw Materials

Design of Products and Services for the Circular Economy

Welcome to the “Design of Products and Services for the Circular Economy” thematic category within the GAEA (Green Alternatives for European Autonomy) Open Innovation Program!

This Innovation Area is at the forefront of a paradigm shift from traditional linear economic models to a more sustainable, circular economy. Our focus is on fostering solutions and business models that embody the essence of circularity, where the lifecycle of products is extended, waste is minimized, and the value of resources is maximized.

In today’s world, the urgency for sustainable practices is more evident than ever. The circular economy presents a promising pathway, rethinking how we design, produce, and consume products and services. It challenges the conventional ‘take-make-dispose’ model, advocating for a systemic change where every product is designed with its entire lifecycle in mind. This approach is not only environmentally prudent but also offers significant economic and social benefits.

Emphasizing product life extension strategies such as repairing, remanufacturing, and recycling, this thematic category aims to transform the way products are conceived. It encourages the design of products that are easier to maintain, repair, and repurpose, thus significantly extending their useful life. Additionally, the concept of ‘product as a service’ is another pivotal aspect of this Innovation Area. It reimagines ownership and usage patterns, promoting access over ownership and encouraging shared use of resources.

This Innovation Area also places a strong emphasis on developing new business models that facilitate resource recovery and encourage a sharing economy. These models are essential in creating a more resource-efficient society, where products and services are designed and utilized to reduce waste and conserve resources.

This Innovation Area is addressed to:

  • Individuals from Business, Finance, Marketing, Technology, and Engineering academic sectors studying or recently completed their studies (up to four years) in any European University
  • Researchers and/or Ph.D. students in any relevant to the Innovation Areas science fields from any European University

who have or want to develop an innovative idea for Design of Products and Services for the Circular Economy.

  • Innovative Product Life Extension Strategies: Challenge to develop novel methods for significantly extending the life of products. This could involve innovative repair, remanufacturing, or refurbishing techniques that are both cost-effective and environmentally friendly.
  • Effective Product-as-a-Service Models: Crafting effective and appealing product-as-a-service models that shift consumer and business mindsets from ownership to usage, thereby reducing waste and encouraging sustainability.
  • Scalable Product Sharing Platforms: Creating scalable and user-friendly platforms for product sharing, which effectively reduce the overall demand for new product production and promote a sharing economy.
  • Implementing Circular Design Principles in Product Development: Integrating circular design principles right from the product development stage, focusing on the use, reuse, and recyclability of raw materials, ensuring products are designed for a longer lifecycle and greater material recovery.
  • Seamless Integration of Circular Economy in Supply Chains: Addressing the complex challenge of integrating circular economy principles throughout the entire supply chain, from sourcing to end-of-life product management, ensuring sustainability is embedded at every stage.
  • Modular Product Design: Creating products with interchangeable parts to extend their lifespan, allowing easy repair, upgrading, or recycling.
  • Subscription-Based Clothing Services: Implementing clothing as a service model, where consumers can rent or subscribe to a wardrobe, reducing the need for continuous production of new garments.
  • Leasing Models for Appliances: Creating leasing models for home appliances, enabling consumers to use and return products, reducing the need for individual ownership and encouraging reuse and recycling.
  • Urban Mining and Material Recovery: Developing advanced urban mining techniques to recover valuable materials from urban waste, especially focusing on extracting rare metals used in electronics.
  • Product-as-a-Service Models: Implementing models where products are offered as services, encouraging sharing, leasing, or renting, thereby reducing the need for new products and materials.
  • Material Recovery from Waste Streams: Developing processes to extract valuable raw materials from waste streams, such as recovering metals from electronic waste or plastics from ocean waste, for use in new products.
  • Circular Design Software Tools: Developing advanced software tools to assist designers and engineers in creating products that adhere to circular economy principles, including modularity, durability, and recyclability, from the outset of the design process.
  • Solutions for Eco-Industrial Parks: Establishing a collaborative platform for industrial parks where businesses collaborate to utilize each other’s by-products as raw materials, thereby creating a closed-loop system of resource usage.
  • Collaborative Platform for Circular Economy Best Practices: Establishing an online platform that facilitates the sharing of best practices, innovations, and strategies in circular economy among businesses, fostering collaboration and accelerating the transition to more sustainable business models.
  • Development of Biodegradable Materials with Lower Energy Footprints: Researching and developing biodegradable materials that not only replace plastics but also require less energy to produce. This effort would contribute to reducing environmental pollution while aligning with the goals of energy efficiency and sustainability.

Categories of submission


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