Ruud Balkenende is Professor of Circular Product Design. He started at the TU Delft in 2015 after 25 years of experience at Philips. He published about 40 papers and holds 30 patents. He has been active in several EU-funded projects and was e.g. the coordinator of the GreenElec, a project that successfully developed and implemented design for recycling of electronic products. His research, projects and teaching concentrate on the connection between product design and circular economy with a focus on the engineering aspects of implementation.
Global sustainability challenges have increased, and we need to step up from solving environmental issues to preventing them. Dealing with products in a different way is a necessity. Repairing a product that is broken. Upgrading a product that is still functional. This asks for a change in the way in which products are designed, made, sold, used and treated at the end of a lifecycle. This is essentially what Circular Product Design is about. A close interaction with sustainable business models is essential, as these determine the economic attractiveness of solutions and thus the likelihood of implementation. Examples of solutions regarding recycling and repair will be presented. Specific opportunities and threats arising from advanced materials and emerging technologies will be discussed. By explicitly taking recovery into account in the design process, we cannot only save materials, but also save the functionality of products, save the environmental quality and save financial value by designing for reuse, repair, refurbishment and parts harvesting.