Product Design for a Circular Economy

One of the unfortunate repercussions of Australia’s culture of consumption is the amount of valuable material that goes to landfill each year, from household products reaching the end of their useful life.

Typically, furniture, appliances and electronic devices are designed with purpose in mind only. There is little consideration given to their composition and ease of disassembly which results in poor recycling outcomes when it comes time for them to be replaced. This is particularly exacerbated by the rise of planned obsolescence, where products are not designed to be taken apart or retrofitted for repair; replacement is the ultimate aim.

To integrate the values of resource recovery, waste minimisation and circular economy into our culture of consumption, designers and manufacturers must consider the entire life cycle of a product in its conception. This means designing products that are made up of recyclable materials or those that have clear recycling pathways and consideration about how they might be easily disassembled at their end of life to separate these materials.

Herman Miller are a furniture designer and manufacturer of high end furniture for the home and office. Built into their values is a focus on the environmental impact of their furniture’s design. It is a very positive step to see a manufacturer attempting to maximise the amount of recycled material in their product, monitoring the amount of recyclable material the product is made up of; and actively designing the products to be easily broken down into the core materials to maximise their diversion from landfill.

At a time where Australia is at a crossroads about how our waste is managed into the future, companies like Herman Miller are part of the solution. To adopt the principles of a circular economy, the products that we buy need to be made up of recycled or recyclable material and easily broken down, to re-enter the economy and retain their inherent material value.

Here at Tradr we will launch a marketplace where people can verify the recycled materials that are sourced to make the product they are purchasing. Stay tuned!