Ecodesign, ecological design, is an approach where the aim is to minimize the environmental impact of products and services and to optimize this impact through their life cycle.
Approximately 80 % of the environmental impact of a product or a service is defined during the design phase in product development. This is why it is extremely important that designers are aware of their responsibility and know the principles and possibilities of ecological and circular design.
The objective of EcoDesign Circle 4.0 is to increase the readiness of designers and companies in developing service-based tools and approaches to the circular economy. In order to be able to further circular thinking, we also have to pay attention to digitalization; it will e.g. enable the use of various digital service platforms.
The project is a continuation of the three-year (2016–2019) EcoDesign Circle project funded by the Interreg Baltic Sea Region Programme of the European Union. EcoDesign Circle 4.0 connects and networks various actors, e.g. professionals of design, circular economy and sustainable development, enterprises, schools and universities, and design organizations. The project strives to increase the understanding and expertise of various interest groups in the circular economy and ecological / sustainable design. We need more professionals who master the methods of both design thinking and the circular economy. There is also a need to increase the awareness of ecodesign of both the public and political decision-makers as ecodesign enables the shift from linear business to the circular economy.
Under the initial EcoDesign Circle project the understanding of designers and design organizations in ecological product design and circular business models was increased. During the project, various tools were realized, including the following: EcoDesign Sprint tool for developing business operations of companies; EcoDesign Audit evaluation model for defining the stage of the circular economy and use of design in a company; EcoDesign Learning Factory training programme, the touring exhibition Reconsider Design, and the website Sustainability Guide. The target groups of the project were designers, companies, circular economy experts, various organizations and public bodies, and educational institutions.
EcoDesign Circle: Ecodesign as driver of innovation in the Baltic Sea Region was a three-year (2016–2019) development project partly funded by the Interreg Baltic Sea Region Programme of the European Union. The project was for developing the circular economy and related business, research and educational activities with the means of design.
The Lead Partner of the project was the Umweltbundesamt UBA of Germany. The other partners were Internationales Design Zentrum Berlin (Germany), Eesti Disainikeskus (Estonia), Lietuvos Dizaino Forumas (Lithuania), Design Forum Finland (Finland), Stiftelsen Svensk Industridesign (Sweden) and Gdynia Innovative – Pomeranian Science and Technology Park – Gdynia Design Centre (Poland). The total budget of the project was € 2.2 million.
As part of EcoDesign Circle, Design Forum Finland has created the EcoDesign Sprint tool where companies get to know ecodesign and circular economy, as well as circular design methods, together with circular design professionals. The goal of the Sprint is to provide the client companies with new business concepts in accordance with circular economy and thus develop the business operations of the company, creating competitiveness and more sustainable products and services for it. Design Forum Finland also piloted the EcoDesign Audit tool, created by Eesti Disainikeskus, with the companies selected to participate in the Sprint.