Circular Economy Terms

Circular Economy
Looking beyond the current take-make-waste extractive industrial model, a circular economy aims to redefine growth, focusing on positive society-wide benefits. It entails gradually decoupling economic activity from the consumption of finite resources, and designing waste out of the system. Underpinned by a transition to renewable energy sources, the circular model builds economic, natural, and social capital. 
- From Ellen MacArthur Foundation

Product stewardship is where environmental, health, and safety protection centres on the product itself, and everyone involved in the lifespan of the product is called upon to take up responsibility to reduce its environmental, health, and safety impacts. For manufacturers, this includes planning for, and if necessary, paying for the recycling or disposal of the product at the end of its useful life. Also called Extended Producer Responsibility. 

Planned obsolescence, or built-in obsolescence, in industrial design and economics is a policy of planning or designing a product with an artificially limited useful life, so that it becomes obsolete (i.e. unfashionable, or no longer functional) after a certain period of time.The rationale behind this strategy is to generate long-term sales volume by reducing the time between repeat purchases (referred to as "shortening the replacement cycle").

Life Cycle Analysis is a technique to assess environmental impacts associated with all the stages of a product's life from raw material extraction through materials processing, manufacture, distribution, use, repair and maintenance, and disposal or recycling. Designers use this process to help critique their products.

The Commons is the cultural and natural resources accessible to all members of a society, including natural materials such as air, water, and a habitable earth. These resources are held in common, not owned privately. Commons can also be understood as natural resources that groups of people (communities, user groups) manage for individual and collective benefit. Characteristically, this involves a variety of informal norms and values (social practice) employed for a governance mechanism. Commons can be also defined as a social practice of governing a resource not by state or market but by a community of users that self-governs the resource through institutions that it creates.

The Internet of things (IoT) is the extension of Internet connectivity into physical devices and everyday objects. Embedded with electronics, Internet connectivity, and other forms of hardware (such as sensors), these devices can communicate and interact with others over the Internet, and they can be remotely monitored and controlled.

Sharing economy is a term for a new way of distributing goods and services---a way that differs from the traditional model of corporations hiring employees and selling products to consumers. In the sharing economy, individuals are said to rent or "share" things like their cars, homes and personal time to other individuals in a peer-to-peer fashion.

Social capital broadly refers to those factors of effectively functioning social groups that include such things as interpersonal relationships, a shared sense of identity, a shared understanding, shared norms, shared values, trust, cooperation, and reciprocity. However, the many views of this complex subject make a single definition difficult.

Environmental Capital Total of renewable and non-renewable natural resources of a country. Though substitutes for some natural resources may be found through technology, most of the natural resources are non-substitutable. Also called natural capital.

Modula design is a design approach that creates things out of independent parts with standard interfaces. This allows designs to be customized, upgraded, repaired and for parts to be reused.

Additive manufacturing
Manufacturing objects by adding material (instead of removing material). For example 3D printing. 

Subtractive manufacturing
The manufacturing of an object by removing mass from the original form. For example sculpting from a stone block.

Design for disassembly
Design principle that calls for the end-of-life options of how the product, components and materials can be deconstructed.

Design for durability
Design principle that calls for maximization of a product or service's useful life. Planned obsolescence directly contrasts this design principle.

Design for environment
Design principle that calls for the minimization of negative environmental impacts across a product or service's life cycle.

Design for flexibility
Design principle (most commonly applied in building design and construction) that calls for use of interstitial space, programmed soft space, shell space, expansion capacity, demountable partitions and mobile or modular furnishings.

Design for recyclability
Design principle that calls for the end-of-life accounting of how the product will be collected and recycled.

Design for repairability
Design principle that calls for products to be manufactured using fasteners, materials and processes that allow them to be easily be fixed.

Design for sustainability
Design principle that calls for the optimization of environmental and social benefits across a product or service's life cycle.

Material flow
The quantity and rate at which materials move through a system (i.e. city, company, etc.)

Renewable resources
Materials, energy and water sources that replenish themselves after human extraction within a finite amount of time.

Establishing uniformity across manufacturing processes to minimize errors and save costs.

Waste hierarchy
The priority order available for managing wastes, ranked in descending order of preference, based on the best environmental outcome across the lifecycle of the material. (1) Prevention, (2) Reduce, (3) Reuse, (4) Recycle, (5) Incineration, (6) Landfill.