Designing circular products: EU Commission sets the rules

Designing circular products: EU Commission sets the rules

By Marco Capellini, CEO of Matrec.

On 30 March, the European Commission presented the Sustainable Products Initiative: a package of proposals to define specifications for the design of circular and sustainable products.

The Commission has already identified certain product categories such as textiles, furniture, mattresses, tyres, detergents, paints, lubricants, as well as intermediate products such as iron, steel and aluminium, which have a high environmental impact and potential for improvement and can therefore be candidates for the first work plan.

An analysis of the technical documents, waiting for the implementing decrees, shows very clearly the acceleration that the Commission wants to give to circular and sustainable product design, highlighting different specifications for product categories.

The introduction of the digital passport is intended to help consumers make informed choices and facilitate access to information towards the repair and extension of products life cycle as well as proper end-of-life management.

The Commission also proposes a number of amendments to the communication methods: statements on environmental performance will not be allowed without clear, objective and third-party verified commitments and targets.

Particular attention has been paid to the fashion sector, which will be called upon to apply concrete and operational circularity models.

This package undoubtedly represents a strong acceleration by the EU Commission towards a market that will be characterised only by products designed in a circular and sustainable way. The truthfulness of the data on the environmental performance of products will be fundamental to avoid greenwashing. The need to use only quantitative data will be essential to demonstrate the real circularity characteristics of products, such as recycled and renewable material content, durability, disassemblability, reparability, recyclability and other aspects related to life extension.

As Matrec, we have long developed design support tools and models for measuring the quantitative circularity of products: tools that consider all circularity specifications required by the new EU regulation.

In particular, CircularTool, a circular product design tool validated by Bureau Veritas, helps companies to research circular materials, carry out assessment and improvement actions considering the product life cycle, compare the different design solutions developed and measure the final circularity of products. CircularTool is a tool that several companies in the furniture, fashion, packaging, construction and giftware sectors are using with success.

Source and image: Matrec,