This weekly lecture explores the phenomenon of the Circular Economy (CE). The CE provides a new holistic vision for economic activity and related (technological) innovation trajectories by addressing several of today's global challenges such as resource scarceness (e.g. critical materials), environmental pollution and degradation (e.g. climate change, loss of biodiversity, unhealthy products) and the increasing dependency on ever increasing production quantities (and related resource usage) for safeguarding employment levels. To overcome these shortcomings, the CE proposes a value creation architecture based on material flows circulating either in biological cycles (e.g. biodegradable products) or technical cycles (e.g. reuse, refurbishing, repairing, recycling of products and materials) ultimately aiming at higher resource efficiency, decreased dependency on external inputs and significant increase of regional job opportunities in the service sector (e.g. repair, refurbishing). The CE has implications on multiple levels, including the economy, organisations, technologies and individuals (as well as the societies they are embedded in). Against this background, this course will look specifically at the implications of the CE for product and service development strategies (e.g. design-for-circularity, product take-back strategies), quality design and management (e.g. trade-offs such as lightweight-design vs. reparability; quality criteria for cycled materials and products) and firm's business models (e.g. transformation from product sales to product-service-systems approach). The weekly lecture – based on the latest scientific research – walks you through the individual components of the CE. A site visit to one of the local circular businesses provides for the necessary bridging of theoretical knowledge into practice.
- Teacher: Josef-Peter Schöggl