Brainstorming for the CE: Four R’s of a circular flow

One of our missions for TGW is to help people find ways to increase revenue for their business through the circular economy.

A major barrier to organizations adopting more circular business strategies is not knowing how to reconfigure their business for it. Even after learning bout the CE and deciding to partake in it, the last step of actually making the change is where people steer away.

The Ellen McArthur Foundation and IDEO came out with a Circular Design Guide to help people find ways to redesign the world to be more circular. Part of that guide covers a simple brainstorm exercise for businesses within the “technical system” of a circular economy — that is, the system of human-made goods and materials.

Within this flow, there are four ways a product or service can be redesigned to be circular:


The length of time a product can be used for is maximized. An example of such is using that product as part of a service.

Example: Nuuly’s clothing rental subscription service


Products are designed to be easily repaired and or upgraded so it continues to stay in use.

Example: Apple’s refurbished products market


Products go back to the manufacturer to repair any necessary parts and then re-enter the market.

Example: Renaut remanufactures spare car parts


Products are made from materials that can be recycled back to a raw, natural state at the end of their time of use.

Example: Compostable shipping packaging

Think about your own business, how can your product or service be resigned using these strategies? Give it a brainstorm session and see how many new ideas you can come up with!

If you’re interested in discussing this, as well as other circular economy-related topics, join our conversations over in our community:

About the author:

Sarah is our community manager, working closely with partners and community members to help us transition to a circular economy. She also runs our product community for TGW — a free design thinking and innovation platform for tomorrow’s changemakers and entrepreneurs. You can reach out to Sarah via email or come chat with us in our community.

FLF Product Design — designing and launching new ventures and digital products, with a focus on analytics, organizational design and sustainability.

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