Companies are increasingly recognising the opportunities that the circular economy brings as a competitive advantage and a means to boost their business in a rapidly changing market environment. Companies participating in the ’Circular Design – Path towards Circular Economy’ training programme are currently developing new strategies and product and service innovations through circular design.

As part of the implementation of the strategic Circular Design programme and built on the initiative of the Ministry of the Environment, the training programme will be showcased at the World Circular Economy Forum event in May, at the Finland booth in Messukeskus in Helsinki. The exhibition will feature concrete examples of how investing in circular design is creating new strategic approaches, process enhancements and product and service innovations, not to mention new, circular business opportunities.

The Circular Design – Path towards Circular Economy programme is being implemented throughout 2023 and is internationally unique focusing primarily on increasing circular design capabilities of participating companies. The free-of-charge pilot programme involves 50 companies of various sizes and industries selected through an application process.

Participants include large corporations such as Stora Enso, UPM Raflatac, and Mirka, as well as smaller companies like Helkama Velox, Kiilto, and Genelec.

Explore highlights from attending companies (pdf-file)

The programme is now half-way through, and some companies are working on strategic-level initiatives focused on changing processes and operating principles, while others are engaged in concrete product and service development projects.

For example, Ensto, a provider of solutions for electricity distribution, has been examining the environmental impacts of its products through product development, raw material choices and their lifecycle. The aim is to develop a responsible brand that meets EU and customer requirements based on science and research.

“We can better understand what will happen during the product’s long lifecycle and how we should refine our processes to generate environmental impact data,” describes Senior Sustainability Specialist Marjo Ketonen of Ensto. Even small modifications can have a significant impact when dealing with high-volume products consisting of various materials with long lifecycles.

Owatec Group, a provider of water purification solutions, has aligned its operations in such a way that the circular economy is at strategic core of business, not just one element among others. Mirka, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of abrasive products and machines, is looking to further develop the operation of its service centres and better communicate their services to customers. Within the company, a desire has arisen to look at things from the point of view of the entire product life cycle and new business opportunities have emerged in the discussions.

“The programme has contributed to our knowledge and toolbox on circular economy. We have found the curated content very valuable and time saving, providing a reliable and professionally structured framework to build on.” –FootBalance System Oy

The development work within companies is still ongoing, and projects are still in the planning phase. The training will continue until the end of the year, and many projects will commence thereafter. However, the enthusiasm and interest in new initiatives are significant, with all participants recognising the necessity of transitioning to a circular economy.

“Through the program we have found partners who are interested in finding a solution for de-bonding the surfaces without damaging the other parts […]. We are proceeding towards the first industrial trial in a customer manufacturing process in May.” –Kiilto Oy

The training is an initiative of the Strategic Circular Economy Program, led by the Ministry of the Environment. Design Forum Finland, a promoter of design utilisation in companies, and circular economy expert Ethica Oy, in collaboration with VTT, SYKE, Sitra, Frankly Partners, Miltton, and Alice Labs, are responsible for its implementation.

Companies participating in the Circular Design: Path towards Circular Economy program can be met at the World Circular Economy Forum event’s exhibition area at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs joint booth on Tuesday, 30th May, from 16:30 to 17:00.

For more info:

Anne Raudaskoski, Ethica Oy, 050 341 0881

Saija Malila, Design Forum Finland, 044 727 2280