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 Jessie Mazzola
How will the circular economy change the way manufacturing is done? In what ways
will product innovation and process design need to change compared to today’s linear
The circular economy is a new concept which fits into the framework of sustainable
development, with the purpose of decreasing companies’ dependence on scarce resources
while adding more value. In other words; producing goods and services while limiting the
waste of raw materials, energy and water, thanks to regenerative cycles:
« Nothing is lost, nothing is created, everything is transformed »
At the opposite, a linear economy involves the use of closing cycles, based on the “take, make
and dispose” system.
The way manufacturing is done will therefore change in:
Rethink the perception of materials:
Materials will be viewed as essential components of a stock, not just as items flowing
through the making process only once.
Make the distinction with recycling:
By adopting systematic processes (several life cycles), as well as the use and reuse of
products and their components, waste will become a valuable, reusable element within
the chain.
Make the distinction between the “consumable et durable” elements of a product:
With a circular economy system, the difference between both is made. The consumable
parts will be made with pure and nontoxic components in order to guarantee their return
to earth. The durable elements will be reused or improved to ensure their utilisation in the
most efficient way.
Rethink the consumer/user role:
Restoration is the key element in a circular economy. By extension, the role of the
consumer is replaced by the role of the end-user. Meaning that when selling a
product, companies have to ensure the user will return it in order to reuse its
materials. This system implicates a change in the way companies interact with
customers, as they will have to build strategies/motivations which will ensure the
materials’ return.
Product innovation and process design:
Thinking new:
Innovative processes will be required in order to create products easily reusable, with a
simple disassembly procedure, and sustainable and long-lasting, for maximum efficiency.
 Jessie Mazzola
Implementing a circular economy within a process means the end of the traditional
product’s life cycle beginning-middle-end. When original materials stop being used,
companies will have to adapt and find ways/processes to put them back into another
useful cycle. Options could be reuse (back to users), remanufacture (back to
manufacturing process), refurbish (back to the company/”maker”) or recycle (back to
The manufacturers will have to design specifically for re-use, longevity and material
Referring to the above circular economy cases (or other cases published on the Ellen
MacArthur Foundation website) how does the re-manufacturing process change compared to
linear manufacturing?
The main differences when comparing a linear and a circular economy take place in the step
plan, the way sustainability processes are applied, and in the re-use practices. To summarize,
in a linear economy, the products are used until they are worn out, and they are then
considered as waste. In order to create value, companies maximize the production and sale of
At the opposite, a circular economy is based on an approach called the 3R: « Reduce, Reuse,
Recycle ».
• At Renault, they remanufacture diverse components such as automotive engines or
pumps, with the aim of re-selling them instead of wasting them.
• They also reshape components to facilitate their disassembly. The goal is to create
new products from these materials.
• They convert worn out materials to re-use them for new cars to reduce material
extraction as possible. Therefore, they retain value instead of only focusing on
maximizing it.
• At Ricoh, they designed a special green line aiming at maximizing products reusability
and to save materials. The products come back to them and are then refurbished. The
components are replaced and the software updated.
They therefore anticipate and design the components in a way that will ensure
they will be appropriately reused, recycled, or refurbished. Which, contrary to the
linear strategy, enables them to save labour, energy, capital, to reduce waste and
dependence on new materials.
 Jessie Mazzola
• Regarding products that cannot be remanufactured, they are recycled, just like in a
linear economy. However, they are currently building a process which would allow
them to return some recycled materials to their Asian manufacturing plants, to use
them as brand new components. Unlike linear economy, this system would enable
them to save up to 30% of materials costs.
Which KPIs would you propose for a remanufacturing operation?
New Component Cost (NCC)
In my opinion, it is important to determine the implied costs of components during the
remanufacturing process in order to prevent and to reduce them.
Salvage Rate by Product (SRP) and Salvage Rate by Component (SRC)
These KPIs consists of measuring the percentage of reused components and could therefore
help to have an overview of which products are too costly, which ones are successfully
remanufactured and how the company can decrease its remanufacturing costs.
Core/Product Ratio (CPR)
The goal with CPR would be to find an average of the cores used for the production of a
remanufactured product. Thanks to this method, we could reduce the number of used core
for an output. In other words, the total amount of finished remanufactured products.
Core Class Assessment (CCA)
This KPI helps to assess the quality of the core process. Thanks to it, we could ensure the
proper sourcing of cores, as well as a precise forecasting.
Material Used (MU) and Recycled Material Used (RMU)
As one of the main purpose of the circular economy is to preserve the environment, it is
essential to know the total amount of materials used in remanufacturing, to then compare it
with the amount of RMU in the manufacturing process. This measure would maximise
efficiency and minimise costs and process’s waste.
In what ways can improvements in technical materials contribute to building the circular
economy? Give three examples from the articles and/or from other sources.
1) Renault
Renault redesigns its components to make them easy to disassemble. “Renault leases
batteries for electric cars, in large part to recover them more easily so they can be
reengineered or recycled for additional duty”. This technique involves the good management
 Jessie Mazzola
of the stock of materials. Particularly for technical materials such as plastics, metals, fossil
fuels. Improving techniques of their utilization (for instance making sure that the left parts are
used to re-produce other materials) contributes significantly to the circular economy as we
are totally focused on value retention.
2) Nespresso
A few years ago, Nespresso rose the question about how to recycle
small metal packaging such as the company’s capsules, if no industry
to make it exists. Nespresso understood quickly that the solution was
to create a system by itself. Therefore, with the support of “Eco-
Emballages” and other players in the “Aluminum and Steel Small
Packaging Club (Celaa)”, the company stated that electromagnetic
induction fields, already used in the sorting of large metallic elements,
should be adapted to small packages. As a consequence, local
authorities, Celaa, Eco-Emballages and others, have joined the “Metal
Project”, financially supported by Nespresso.
I think this is a good example of new techniques supporting the framework of the circular
economy. Indeed, Nespresso and its supporters have been further than just thinking about
“recycling big”; they created a new cycle enabling to reprocess small packaging.

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Indeed, the company is very involved and it really encourages the circular economy.
They start by eco-designing their products. Meaning that during the product development
process, they make sure that the end product will be easily re-used, disassembled,
reassembled, and recycled. They have 2 essential requirements: provide for the product’s
recyclability at its term, and the utilisation of reused or recycled materials in their
Examples of products would be their “LISABO” table, with solid wooden legs that can be very
easily clipped, or the sprayer “TOMAT”, made with 50% recycled plastic coming form their
stores, preserving 60% of energy and avoiding 80% of C02 emissions.
 Jessie Mazzola

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