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Resource Efficiency: 'New Designs for a Circular Economy' competition case study

This post is submitted by Beatrice Rogers, the Creative Industries KTN's Deputy Director and lead on the Design Special Interest Group.

People often associate design with creating the look and feel of a product, but design can also be used strategically to, for example, develop systems, improve services and build in sustainability. This video case study shows one way design has been used to increase business efficiency, create “circular economy” processes and support skills in the local community. 

Rob Maslin, Director of We All Design, worked with Treebox as part of a Technology Strategy Board funded collaborative R&D feasibility study within the 'Resource Efficiency: New Designs for a Circular Economy' competition, held earlier this year. This competition supported research into the re-design of products, components and systems to retain material within the economy over several cycles of use – ‘closing the loop'. The new designs should lead to products with a lower environmental impact and/or that are less dependent on the use of strategic materials.

Treebox is an organisation that brings life to urban structures through creating green walls. Green walls are growing in popularity, and help to contribute to wellbeing and environmental benefits in urban settings. But they also have negative environmental impact in terms of the poly-propylene sheet and stainless steel components used in their installation.

The aim of this TSB funded project was to explore and develop new designs that support Treebox to be environmentally friendly, whilst also levering opportunities to create a more efficient business with happier customers and users.

The project investigated the feasibility of Treebox shifting their business model to recover and recycle all of the materials used in the installation of their vertical gardens and look at opportunities for improving the product in terms of environmental and functional performance.

Speaking about the project, Armando Raish, Managing Director of Treebox said, “The information we have gained from this whole research process has been invaluable … learning how people have been interacting with our panels, learning where the potential lies to improve the design of our panels particularly from a circular economy view … that actually is playing a large part of how we design the product and more importantly the service behind the product.”

About Tree Box

Treebox sell and install green walls. These are panel systems for growing plants vertically. Green walls have a number of environmental benefits and restorative features, including improving air quality, regulating building temperature, noise attenuation, offering opportunities to inclusively grow food in city limits, better water management, reduce energy consumption etc.

Design Challenges for a Circular Economy competition

Interested in applying for the new TSB 'Design Challenges For A Circular Economy' competition? Registration closes on 4th September 2013, and the submission date for applications is 11th September. You can find information on how to apply here.

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