Design competencies for a circular economy

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Limited research has been done on design competencies for a circular economy in practice. Yet, an overview of design competencies for a circular economy would be useful to understand which topics should be emphasized in both education and practice. This paper focuses on deriving circular economy competencies for product designers working in industry. The study consisted of three focus groups with twelve designers that are actively exploring circular economy opportunities in an industrial product design context. We derived six design competencies for a circular economy: (1) circular economy understanding, (2) circular economy storytelling (3) setting circular criteria, (4) assessing circular solutions, (5) connecting reverse logistics with users, and (6) design for multiple use cycles. These six competencies are presented and reflected upon by comparing them to competencies found in literature. Two of the competencies found (i.e., circular economy understanding and storytelling) are new compared to those mentioned in literature. The other four competencies found in this study overlap or further specify competencies mentioned in literature. Ultimately, the relevancy of each of the six competencies for an individual designer is determined by the role this designer has in a company.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication3rd Product Lifetime and the Environment (PLATE) 2019
EditorsNils F. Nissen, Melanie Jaeger-Erben
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventPLATE 2019 - Berlin, Germany
Duration: 18 Sep 201920 Sep 2019


ConferencePLATE 2019
Abbreviated titlePLATE
Internet address


  • Circular economy
  • Product design
  • design competencies


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  • Circular Economy Competencies for Design

    Sumter, D., 2021, 197 p.

    Research output: ThesisDissertation (TU Delft)

    Open Access
    56 Downloads (Pure)

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