A Tool for Charting Circular Consumption Journeys
Paper in proceeding, 2019
Circular economy proponents often argue that products should be designed to last long, be fit for circular (re-) production flows, and be offered through circular services. While this is essential for bringing about a transition to a circular economy, changes in consumption are equally important. Transitioning from linear consumption processes (i.e. buying new products, using, and disposing of them as trash) to circular consumption processes (i.e. obtaining pre-used products, using, and passing them on to others) can however be challenging for people. Renting, borrowing, trading and other circular paths of consumption commonly require more time, effort and planning than linear paths of consumption. In order to make it more preferable for people to circulate products from consumer to consumer, products and services should be designed to make circularity convenient and desirable in everyday life. Such design processes require an in-depth understanding of people’s consumption processes. Yet, the available support to explore what circular consumption processes entail for people in everyday life is insufficient. Therefore, this paper introduces a tool for charting circular consumption journeys, which can support the development of products and services fit for circularity. This tool was developed during 2016-2019 in an iterative process in which the tool was tested by industry representatives and design students. In parallel with these activities, a team of researchers continuously developed and refined the tool based on gained insights. The tool aids designers and other agents to chart people’s consumption processes step-by-step, with a focus on people’s activities, actions, decisions and experiences. By charting circular consumption journeys, insight can be gained regarding critical hinders that may keep people from engaging in circular consumption. Moreover, it will unveil consumption-related challenges that should be addressed when designing circular products and services. Overall, the tool can aid organisations to both increase their understanding of circular consumption processes and to explore opportunities to develop products and services for a circular economy.