Right from the start, The Great Recovery used haptic design learning to explore the challenges of a circular economy in a hands-on and creative way, and has shared this action-based approach with thousands of people from its network. Where some may talk about the problems of waste and material recovery, it took designers to see those impacts for themselves. Where others discuss supply chains and materials streams, it got the workshop participants to take apart familiar everyday products, to identify the materials used (if they can) and consider the many processes that led them to be incorporated in that item – as well as the difficulties of recovery and re-use. It was our job to interpret this approach so it could inform the graphics.

The Great Recovery project, launched in September 2012 by the Action and Research Centre at the RSA and supported by Innovate UK ran until 2016. Its aim was to investigate the impact of design in our current ‘take-make-waste’ culture and begin the shift towards a more circular economy. It’s focus was to do this through building an informed cross-disciplinary design community that would be equipped to support businesses and government in the development of an economy based on resource-efficient principles.

Design will play a key role in the transition to a circular economy. We need to educate and inspire the design industry to take up this challenge.

Sophie Thomas
Project Director