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The Great Recovery project, launched in September 2012 by the Action and Research Centre at the RSA, aims to build a cross disciplinary design community that is equipped to support the development of an economy based on resource-efficient principles.

Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) estimates that around 540m tonnes of products and materials enter the UK economy each year but only 117m tonnes of this gets recycled. Redesigning our manufacturing processes around circular economy principles will increase reuse and recycling, create new business opportunities, address material security issues and contribute to sustainable economic growth.

We have created a network of professionals involved in all parts of the lifecycle of products in our economy, and engaged them in rethinking the design of these products from a circular perspective.

The Great Recovery has run a programme of workshops, networking and brokering events, presentations, debates and round tables. These have helped build understanding around the principles of closed loop design and the barriers to achieving full circularity. These events have supported Technology Strategy Board’s (TSB) ‘New Designs for a Circular Economy’ competition that has invested £1.25m to 35 cross-disciplinary teams to carry out feasibility studies across a wide range of products and processes.

We have developed an online resource that focuses on design for a circular economy. This includes a growing database of reports, images and information, articles, blogs, Twitter feeds and a dedicated YouTube channel which hosts films of the workshops.

Through the circular network, workshops and teardown observations, we have gained a better understanding of what action and research is required to transform the way society manages resources. We have made a series of key recommendations based on the findings of the first phase of The Great Recovery programme.


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