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Circular and sustainable products. From theory into practice.
Circular economy is seen as an innovative path with a high potential to achieve a more sustainable society. In this context, facing a huge pressure and motivation from governments, many research projects and initiatives are being developed all over the world. However, we still have a long road ahead in translating the theory into practice. For example, in the recently launched report “The circularity Gap report” published by Circular economy in January 2019, our society is only 9% circular and the trend is still negative, the circularity gap is not closing and the upward trend in resource extraction and greenhouse gas emissions has continued in the last 12 months. (Circle Economy, 2019) In the circular approach to product and service development, which entails fundamental changes in production and consumption systems, where it is necessary to go beyond resource efficiency and recycling (European Environment Agency, 2017), it’s clear the importance of design as an integrating agent in the process. These professionals, through a redesigned approach to the design practice, applying efficient tools and comprehensive lifecycle methods, have the challenge and the potential to transform products, services, and business models. The work presented in the current paper is part of a research project (Camocho et al., 2018) which aims to support the transition to circular and sustainable economy through design. Here, the authors explore the current practice, methods, tools and communication elements applied in the development and placement in the market of eco and sustainable products. By analyzing the process and results that underlays a representative sample of Portuguese eco and sustainable products or products that claim to be, the research aims to identify which are the real needs, drivers and barriers faced by designers and product developers in practice. The results of this work will underpin a holistic approach, sparking critical thinking and supporting a more efficient design practice for a circular consumption and production.