Unilever and Novelis release circular economy tools

Forum for the future toolkit
Image: Kristin Bradley / Flickr CC BY-NC-ND

Forum for the Future have released two new tools that aim to improve circular economy understanding and implementation in design and business, developed in collaboration with Unilever and Novelis.

These resources have been made available to use following a period of internal development between charity Forum for the Future and the two multinational businesses. It is hoped that the application of this research could enable others to begin to capture some of the €1.8 trillion opportunity outlined in recent economic reports, and meet the coming requirements of the EU’s Circular Economy Package.

Design for Demand, an interactive strategic tool created with Novelis, is aimed at designers seeking to ‘accelerate their ability to design for a more circular economy’, as well as educators and students who are encouraged to use Design for Demand as resource. The website takes users through a summary of the circular economy concept, then invites participants to ask themselves how well they know the materials they use, for example in their energy consumption, safety and suitability for reprocessing. When looking at circular solutions, designers learn that shifting to a more circular offering requires a systems thinking perspective, going ‘beyond an approach which focuses on materials and technology’, to a ‘complex web of solutions’. Finally, a ‘brief generator’ offers inspiration for designers to take their own circular economy projects forward.

The collaboration with Unilever produced a Circular Business Model Toolkit that has been used internally to ‘help identify concrete business opportunities’. The toolkit centres around 10 circular business model archetypes, including upcycling, industrial symbiosis and collection services, as well as ‘enabling business models’ such as product service systems and modularity. The toolkit comprises a summary infographic and a downloadable card activity that uses stimulus questions and case studies to inspire new thinking within businesses.

Forum for the Future are looking to speak with emerging designers, educators, students and businesses about putting these resources into practice.

Source: Design for Demand, Circular Business Model Toolkit

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The Author

Joe Iles

Joe Iles

I'm Editor in Chief of Circulate and Digital Architect at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

When I'm not discussing the circular economy, I also love talking about digital media and online trends, memes, music, bad films and good beer.

You can find me on twitter @joeiles or email joe[at]