10 Tips for circular design

by Ulla Söder

The goal of circular design is for products, components, or materials to stay in closed loops as long as possible so we can use them theoretically forever.
But how can we achieve that?

The topic of designing for a circular economy often seems complicated and overwhelming. But there are a few basic principles that you can apply that make every product more compatible for staying in closed loops, either as a complete product, components, or material.

These basic principles make every product more compatible for staying in closed loops as a complete product, component, or material:


1. Use as few parts as necessary.

Refrain from creating losable pieces like little caps or fasteners that can easily be thrown away separately or getting lost. 

Circular Design tips 

2. Arrange parts clearly and organize them

Arrange all parts neatly and organized for ease of use and accessibility. That enables repair and upgrade possibilities. 

Circular design tips

3. Use the same parts when possible

Use the same parts when possible; for example, screws with the same screw head. That makes it easier and cheaper to separate parts using the same tool. 

Circular Design tips

4. Design the structure as simple as possible.

Design the system simple and reduced. Try to design a system as simple as possible; for example, use only one long screw to assemble three panels of wood instead of three short screws.

Circular Design Tips

5. Design your product in one direction

Design your product in one direction; for example: Use the same direction for all fasteners like screws. That makes it easier and faster, and in that way, cheaper to disassemble and use the same materials again. 

6. Do not use glue

If possible, do not use any glue. Instead, prefer click connections or form-locking connections. 

Circular Design Tips 

7. Leave it genuine 

Be aware of often toxic surface treatments: less is more, and no surface treatment is the best for going circular.

Circular Design Tip 7

8. Smart Material choice
    • Use recyclable materials.
    • Use biodegradable materials.
    • Use only safe, no toxic materials in any of its life phases, like processing, manufacturing, assembly, or end-of-life.
    • Use only fair and transparent produced materials.
    • Use as few different materials as possible.
    • Do not connect different materials permanently together. 
    • Characterize all materials.

Circular Design Tip 8

9. Proper product documentation

Provide the customer with proper product documentation, including information about the accessibility to components. 

Circular Design Tip 9

10. Take-back Strategy

Create a take-back strategy for the product.

Circular Design Tip 10


You can also download the 10 tips for circular design as a PDF here: