Repurposing and cascading are well-known circular strategies for closing biological cycles. In recent years researchers and practitioners are also increasingly interested in applying these strategies for the technological cycle, giving discarded products, components and materials a second life, transformed into new products or architectural elements. Repurposing and cascading have the potential to maintain -or even rise- the value of discarded products, that is retaining as much value from the original production and use of such product, into new applications that can even increase its original value. These strategies may be particularly suited for products and materials that hold a memory of their previous life as a unique feature that can be utilised (repurposing), as well as for products which are currently difficult to recycle, yet could be used in various consecutive lives (cascading). However, given the complex nature of waste material streams (with often highly varied characteristics, quality and availability) repurposing and cascading face major challenges related to design and production processes, or and aligned business models.

We are interested in exploring the broad topic of repurposing and cascading with a specific focus on repurpose driven design and manufacturing, as a means for scaling up repurpose from on-off art projects to larger product volumes with viable business models. This includes, but is not limited to, the following research areas:

– How do designers, artisanal makers, incumbent firms and waste companies apply repurposing and cascading as a scalable circular strategy to create value from waste?

– Given that repurpose may not be a suitable strategy for all types of products and materials, what are the conditions and starting points for applying this circular strategy?

– How can specific design methods support repurpose driven design, in order to retain the value added in the original production process, as well as the emotional value from previous use?

– How can design for repurpose integrate the possibilities of repurposing for multiple successive lives into the development of new products?

– How can manufacturing strategies, ranging from artisanal production techniques to digital production technologies, be used for repurposing and cascading of technical products?

– What is the potential of digital production and smart industry applications, to support the upscaling needed for their connected business cases?

– Repurposing may require collaboration across sectors and supply chains – how can the value systems required for repurposing and cascading be developed and implemented?

– How can circular business models enable repurposing and cascading of discarded products, components and materials?

Session owners: Inge Oskam, Renee Wever, Fredrik Hendriksson and Marta Male-Alémany, Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences and Linköping University

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