1.2.4 Introduction to Design for R: Discussion

Course subject(s) Module 1: Introduction

After we heard about the resource challenge and its three aspects: resource scarcity, waste and environmental pressure it is time to discuss the different re-options to close the cycles in the economy being the core of the Circular Economy concept. The instructors from each week will discuss how the different re-options are going to be part of the solving of the resource challenge:

Juan Azcarate is responsible for the topic of reuse and he will lead you through the advantages of the reuse benefits and drawbacks. Juan is PhD researcher at TU Delft, Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment.

Max Prumbohm is a Research Assistant at the Institute of Mechanical Engineering at the Technical University of Clausthal. He will talk about the role of the repair in the Circular Economy and its downsides.

Anna-Karin Jönbrink will discuss the remanufacturing as an option to solve the resource challenge and its possible drawback. Anna Karin Jönbrink is the manager of Energy and Environment at Swerea IVF and is responsible for Circular Economy within the Swerea group. Her research is in the field of Ecodesign and Circular Economy.

Armin Lohrengel is a University Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Design and director of the Institute of Mechanical Engineering at the Technical University of Clausthal. Armin will talk about the recycling and its importance in relation to the resource challenge.

The instructors will discuss how the options are implemented and what are the existing and future possibilities. Finally, David Peck will explain what are the changes that have to happen in society and the relevant barriers and challenges.

Key points:

There-options have various potentials to solve the resource challenge:

  1. Reuse has a potential to solve the resource challenge by extending the service life of the products, reducing the waste stream and avoiding energy production and raw materials extraction.
  2. Repair helps to solve the resource challenge by increasing the lifespan of the products, thus reducing the need for new resources.
  3. Remanufacturing keeps the added value of the products saving resources and preventing mobilizing of new resources.
  4. Recycling, on the other hand, destroys the value of the product and requires energy, which makes it the last option for the Circular Economy. However, the importance of the recycling is significant as it keeps the materials in use and reduces the waste streams.

There are drawbacks and uncertainties related to the re-options:

  1. While extending of product life, the balance between products being produced, reuse, repaired, remanufactured and recycled will be disrupted and the flows as well as the rates unclear.
  2. While repair and remanufacturing we have to be cautious what parts are taken out and how the waste is managed. There is a danger of generation of waste streams in a new way, including emissions caused by products movements or unsafe disposal/reuse of hazardous components.
  3. Another downside of reuse might be the extension of the life of products that are not energy or water efficient anymore.

Reuse is implemented relatively easily, however, it is important to critically evaluate whether or not a product must be repaired or another option would be more appropriate.

The product can be designed for repair in many ways e.g. it can be easy to dismount, might require simple tools to be repaired etc. However, the companies are not always willing to design the products in such a way.

Remanufacturing requires infrastructure for products collection and products suitable for the process.

Recycling is challenged by the variety of materials used in the modern products. The complex products require advance recycling technology for material separation. On the other hand, the low concentration of some of the materials makes the recycling economically unfeasible.

We observe recent changes in the society such as governments agreements around the world, including the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), increasing concern over the environmental pressure and the new possibilities in terms of carriers and lifestyle.

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Engineering Design for Circular Economy by TU Delft OpenCourseWare is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at https://online-learning.tudelft.nl/courses/engineering-design-circular-economy/.
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