From June 12th-14th the Open Source Circular Economy Days took place in at the Fab Lab London. Participants, from a variety of backgrounds, were introduced to challenges identified by leaders such as The Great Recovery, Open Energy Monitor, The Rubbish Diet, and the Knowledge Transfer Network (also the London sponsor) who set about working on circular economy solutions using open source principles.
Topics ranged from exploring ways to build circularity into maker spaces – such as Fab Labs and hackspaces (handy it was held in one) – while another team made these very decisions on materials, designs and prototyping methods, to develop alternative bottle designs and closed loop recycling systems for high-end (and often unrecyclable) cosmetic industry products. The team went on to develop and prototype a simple reusable inner fixing using the 3D printer at their disposal. Note: it took 10 hours to print a small pot.
Another team worked with Open Energy Monitor on its open source energy monitoring hardware, to build understanding of the embodied energy impact of the product. They were also joined by an expert in LCA and an Open LCA user, who was able to provide great insight, direction and verify the quality of the open data set used. What is exciting about this is the potential for open guidance and transparent communication to enable others to use similar approaches to map other product designs and supply chains.
By the end of the Trust is not a Waste challenge the team had neatly summarised years or research, data, online educational resources and insight work from the likes of WRAP, Keep Britain Tidy and SITA UK, into a great wireframe, UX and UI Sketch for an app to build trust and clarity in the waste and recycling system.
The difficulties in designing circular wearable technology were also grappled with, with the participant that led this challenge becoming the resident expert. He explored current guidelines for sustainable or circular product designs then looked at ways to build on these for wearables. The team then envisaged future scenarios featuring repurposed smartwatches.
We had frustration, learning, hugs and beers and have ended no longer as organisers and participants, but as collaborators, openly sharing our skills and passion for exploring, prototyping and creating action for an Open Source Circular Economy.
So, what is next? It is not set, but we know that it’s not just about the Days. It’s about catalyzing ideas, finding common ground, understanding and growing through open participation across sectors and disciplines. The OSCEdays is about putting ideas into action, learning, sharing and collaborating openly with like-minded people all over the world. We know we have a long way to go to fully identify and grow the opportunities and welcome and encourage others to explore with us.
This article has been written by Erica Purvis and Dr Sharon Prendeville, local London OSCEdays organisers and part of the global team.