Great Recovery workshop - Pushing the bounds of materials and information

Research & Impact Event


Fab Lab London

  • Circular economy
  • Design

As experimentation for a circular economy gathers pace, it is becoming more and more evident that we need an effective way to track and trace materials, components and products through a system –from manufacture to end of life.

One of the key lessons that came out of our initial investigations at The RSA Great Recovery was that ‘the ability to track and trace materials is key to reverse engineering our manufacturing processes and closing the loop’.

This new trend for source mapping and tracing materials through a system, as exemplified by companies such as Historic Futures or Dutch aWEARness, is now converging with an upsurge of interest and activity in the so-called ‘Internet of Things’, with companies such as Cisco predicting an explosion in the number of ‘intelligent’ products that are able to anticipate our every move and connect us as never before.

In this workshop, participants will be introduced to the concept of material tracking and tracing and what it could mean for the nascent circular economy. In the morning session, we will hear from two practitioners in the field: Thomas Diez of Fab Lab Barcelona who has developed the open source Smart Citizen project, and Alan Dukinfield of S2S Lifecycle Solutions, who has overseen the installation of a RFID material tracking system in a commercial context.

During the afternoon session, participants will be able to get ‘hands on’ and make use of the facilities and expertise at Fab Lab London to develop a practical project of their own. This could include RFID or bar coding, Arduino or other types of sensor technology. If you already have a project you are working on, you are welcome to bring it along. Otherwise materials and components will be provided.

Sign up to reserve your place!

Please note that lunch is not provided. 


Tomas Diez is the Director of Fab Lab Barcelona, and as such has helped to pioneer the Smart Citizen project in Amsterdam. The Smart Citizen kit is an open source hardware device, a website for collecting data, an API and a mobile app that can measure CO2 and NO2, temperature, humidity, light intensity and noise levels using low-cost sensors. This information can then be shared in real time. Waag SocietyAmsterdam Smart City and the Amsterdam Economic Board created a temporary network of sensors in Amsterdam and collected and measured results over three months.

Alan Dukinfield is the Managing Director of S2S Group, a commercial recycling and information systems company. They have recently installed a new PAS141 system for the refurbishment and re use of electronics, which uses RFID tagging of to track items and also incorporates touchscreen user interfaces.