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The Science of Climate Change

Climate change is no longer a distant threat or just a possibility, it is now a reality for all of us. In this pathway, Kevin Trenberth, a renowned climatologist, delves into the science behind climate change. He first introduces the climate system, its main components and forces.

Tackling the Plastic Crisis

Plastic pollution is by far the biggest threat to our oceans and this remains an incredibly tough problem to solve. Plastic credits could potentially serve as one of the much needed solutions for this crisis.

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The Scale of the Net Zero Challenge

The price of meeting net zero is estimated to be between $100-150 trillion over the next 30 years. Regardless of this cost, we need to reach net zero before climate change does irreversible damage to the environment and the economy.

ESG, Sustainability and Impact Jargon Buster

ESG, sustainability, impact… they all just mean green, right? Not quite. Despite being used often interchangeably, there are distinct differences between these terms.

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Featured Pathways

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The Science of Climate Change

Climate change is no longer a distant threat or just a possibility, it is now a reality for all of us. In this pathway, Kevin Trenberth, a renowned climatologist, delves into the science behind climate change. He first introduces the climate system, its main components and forces.

Tackling the Plastic Crisis

Plastic pollution is by far the biggest threat to our oceans and this remains an incredibly tough problem to solve. Plastic credits could potentially serve as one of the much needed solutions for this crisis.

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Plans & Membership

Our Platform

Expert led content

+1,000 expert presented, on-demand video modules

Learning analytics

Keep track of learning progress with our comprehensive data

Interactive learning

Engage with our video hotspots and knowledge check-ins

Testing & certification

Gain CPD / CPE credits and professional certification

Managed learning

Build, scale and manage your organisation’s learning

Integrations

Connect Sustainability Unlocked to your current platform

Featured Content

More featured content

The Scale of the Net Zero Challenge

The price of meeting net zero is estimated to be between $100-150 trillion over the next 30 years. Regardless of this cost, we need to reach net zero before climate change does irreversible damage to the environment and the economy.

ESG, Sustainability and Impact Jargon Buster

ESG, sustainability, impact… they all just mean green, right? Not quite. Despite being used often interchangeably, there are distinct differences between these terms.

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Circular Design and Manufacturing in Practice

Circular Design and Manufacturing in Practice

Shivali Patel

10 years: Sustainability Consultant

In this video, Shivali covers some real life circular solutions and examples of pioneers in this field to show how circular manufacturing and design processes work in practice. In doing so, she illustrates how the circular economy can be applied across all industries and businesses.

In this video, Shivali covers some real life circular solutions and examples of pioneers in this field to show how circular manufacturing and design processes work in practice. In doing so, she illustrates how the circular economy can be applied across all industries and businesses.

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Circular Design and Manufacturing in Practice

9 mins 32 secs

Overview

Manufacturing and designing products with circularity in mind is key to the circular economy transformation. Without challenging the norm in the design process, we will continue to add to the waste problem. Embracing innovation, new techniques and new materials will support us to create more circular designs and in turn, start to close the loop on more of the things we use.

Key learning objectives:

  • Understand the importance of circular design and how it was applied in the case of Allbirds’ shoes

  • Understand the working of circular manufacturing processes in the case of lab grown diamonds

  • Understand how circular business models work

  • Understand why we need to invest in circular recycling technology

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Summary
What are the aims of circular design in a product or service?

1. Ultimately it should meet the needs of the user 
2. Produce zero waste throughout its life cycle
3. Be fully recyclable into the same value materials again or fully compostable

Why should we implement circular design and manufacturing in packaging?

Despite its widespread use in various industries, plastic packaging has come under significant criticism for its negative impact on the environment and its slow degradation process without full decomposition. Hence, it falls short of being a circular solution.In contrast, Adidas has innovated and implemented an alternative packaging called "mushroom packaging”. This is crafted entirely from naturally occurring fungus (100% mycelium). After its use, this packaging can be composted and returned to the environment, promoting sustainability. Additionally, its ink-free design ensures maximum compostability. Moreover, this packaging has the potential for reuse in future products, further enhancing its eco-friendly attributes.

Which companies are circular design pioneers?


  • Allbirds - Trainers using plants
  • Levi’s - Circular jeans using 100% natural fibres
  • IKEA - Modular furniture that can be disassembled

What was the circular strategy implemented by Allbirds with their shoes?

The traditional athletic footwear industry predominantly manufactures products derived from fossil fuels. Allbirds wanted to create a shoe which would leave no trace at all. Allbirds created a shoe with a mix of natural materials like wool, sugarcane and trees. The only part of the shoes that is not 100% circular are the laces, made from recycled plastic bottles. However, as the laces can be removed easily, the main part of the shoe can still return to nature once industrially composted. The laces can separately be reused again or recycled into new laces or other plastic products. The key to allbirds’ strategy was to focus on aligning their values with their customers’ values, spend considerably less on their marketing and achieve rapid growth. 

How can circular principles be applied in manufacturing of diamonds?

The mining processes used to extract traditional diamonds cause significant land degradation and require vast amounts of water and energy. The emergence of lab grown diamonds shows how circular design principles can be applied to the manufacturing process.  Lab grown diamonds are produced using renewable energy in a lab and hence, doesn’t result in land degradation or pollution. Additionally, it simplifies the supply chain and reduces associated transportation costs and emissions. They are also free from ethical violations that traditional diamonds are associated with. Overall you are able to produce a near flawless diamond in a lab which has a lower emission and better circularity profile.

What are circular business models? 

Circular business models are those that promote the circular economy and typically enable people to rent, repair, re-sell and recycle.

Some examples across different industries are:
  • In the fashion industry - eBay, Vinted, Depop and The Seam allow reselling of clothes (and other items in the case of eBay).
  • Subscription and rental services for products are also considered circular - By Rotation, the HURR Collective and Hirestreet enable people to rent clothing from others.
  • Patagonia enables customers to purchase second-hand Patagonia clothing and provide free repairs for items to keep products in circulation for longer. 
  • Used car dealers such as Cazoo and Auto Trader that allow people to sell their existing cars thereby keeping the products in the loop.

Why do we need circular recycling technology?

We have not yet created enough circular end-of-life businesses/products globally. Hence we need to invest in recycling technology to ensure we limit landfilling. E-waste is one of the most important areas to address. This is due to precious metals and resources they use which are finite. Currently, we send these resources into landfill without extracting them.
 A lot of these metals are also mined with poor environmental practices which leads to degradation of the mining sites and surrounding areas, pollution as well as poor safety standards for those working on the sites. A string of new businesses and local authorities are trying to address this issue by collecting old products, deconstructing them into their constituent parts and selling on the valuable, finite materials onto third parties to be reused again in products. 

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Shivali Patel

Shivali Patel

Shivali Patel is a sustainability consultant and circular economy expert with a focus on consumer industries. She has assisted clients in integrating circularity and net zero considerations into their strategies and delivering end-to-end transformation initiatives as a consultant for Deloitte and an independent.

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