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Module 4: Circular design, technology and innovation

ADBI Circular Economy E-learning Course

Module 4: Circular design, technology and innovation

About this module

Materials such as cement, steel, and aluminum are responsible for some 20-25% of the greenhouse
gas emissions world-wide, next to countless other problems like biodiversity loss due to mining.
Circular use of products, product components and materials keep materials much longer in economic
use, avoiding such impacts.


20 min

Learning Objective

    • Materials have to be produced sustainably and made less complex for easier re-use and
    • Product designs have to enable long product lives, be modular and accessible to enable easy
    repair, refurbishment, and component re-use.
    • Business models offering the service instead of product incentivize longevity, take back of
    the product after its useful life, and re-use of valuable components in the next generation of
    • Policy and innovation support is essential too, since not all circular business models may be
    profitable, and cheap landfill or incineration can frustrate circularity. Illustrations are
    implementing producer responsibility, product deposit schemes, resource taxes, or landfill
    • A case study of a successful research collaboration. This case looks at how by aligning public
    and private resources, useful research outcomes can be successfully deployed at speed to
    the benefit for all.
    • Public policy and private initiatives can enable global collaborations and accelerate


    1. Why is the use of less complex materials, such as more uniform plastics or steel with less alloying elements good for circularity?
    a. To make high quality recycling easier
    b. To minimally extend product life
    c. To enhance remanufacturing and repairing ability
    d. None

    2. What type of product characteristics help and circular economy?
    a. Long life
    b. Easy repairable
    c. Upgradable
    d. All of the above

    3. What is the economic driver in circular product service business models?
    a. Providers have total cost of ownership
    b. Short product lives become a cost for the provider
    c. Materials become a cost for the provider
    d. All of the above

    4. How can we realize a circular economy through introduction of supporting policies?
    a. Enhance cost of landfill and incineration
    b. Implement resource taxes
    c. Implement take back obligations or deposit systems
    d. All of the above


Module 4: Circular design, technology and innovation
Chair of the Board
LDE Centre for Sustainability
Module 4: Circular design, technology and innovation
Edwin KEH
Hong Kong Research Institute of Textile & Apparel (HKRITA)

Module 1: Fundamentals of Circular Economy

Module 2: Plastic Waste Global Policies

Module 4: Circular Business Models, Barriers & Enablers for Circular Economy

Module 6: Circular Economy Policy and Standards

Module 1: Introduction to the Plastics Circularity

Module 3: Circular Economy Workforce Building

Module 5: Circular Supply Chain Management

Module 6: Public-Private Partnerships and Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Building

Module 2: Financing the transition to Circular Economy

Module 3: Plastics Life Cycle, Value & Supply Chain, and Impact

Module 5: Policy Implementation Mechanisms & Challenges and Consumer Behavior

Module 7: Circular Cities

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