Circular Economy Jam: Brainstorming innovative circular economy solutions

Laurea Circular Economy Jam was a two days event and part of International Week at Laurea UAS. It attracted participants from abroad and Finland who worked on circular economy challenges.

Circular Economy Jam gala on Leppävaara campus

Laurea staff, students and international guests teamed together to work on circular economy challenges for seven different topics.

Each team had an opportunity to work on one challenge. How can we decrease food waste at Bar Laurea? How can we decrease E-waste? How can we make recycling and eco-information appealing and easy to grasp? How to create a mobile application to help customers make sustainable choices? How to develop sorting at source on campuses? How to improve the efficient use of products or resources through Collaborative Consumption and Sharing Platforms? How to create an attractive and easy-to-use ridesharing system for intra-campus mobility?

Julia Nevmerzhitskaya, senior lecturer at Laurea and CIRC4Life project manager and Aletta Purola, project specialist organized the event.

Only one planet

Marleena Ahonen, a circular economy project coordinator from Sitra, gave an opening speech on what circular economy is and why it is so important for all of us. She used simple but bold examples, telling we would need four planets if everyone on Earth wished to live on a Finnish living standard. “But we only have this one Earth”, she said. She described circular economy as a way of living, where we do not produce waste, but we utilize resources as much as possible. We produce long-lasting and repairable products; we sell services of products; we look for opportunities to share and to rent products. She concluded with the thought: “You have the right to own nothing”.

Service designer Jesse Grimes, Jam’s special guest from Amsterdam, made a brief introduction on service design methods, a jam format and the way of working under time pressure. “Go with the flow”, he encouraged the crowd of participants and facilitators gathered in the Timo Auditorium on Leppävaara campus.

Jamming about innovative solutions

The jammers worked hard for two days developing innovative solutions for their chosen topic. The group sessions started with brainstorming and exchanging ideas, exploring and understanding the topics from different perspectives. By the end of the second day, participants had ready prototypes and were excited about new ideas and innovations.

Laurea student Elisa Kallioniemi participated in the CE Jam because of her deep interest in the topic.

“Circular economy as a whole is a kind of a guide for my own actions and my own consumer choices. I am currently working on my thesis and my topic is ridesharing for campus mobility. It is an important issue because of the growing CO2 emissions. The Jam was an excellent experience. We exchanged plenty of ideas and it will definitely help me with my thesis”, said Elisa Kallioniemi.

“During the Jam, I worked on a topic of how to develop a platform for users to improve the efficient use of products and resources. For example, if you have something you do not use anymore, how can others know that this item is available? Giving a second and third life to products is important because climate change is affecting all of us around the world. I went to Greenland and I saw climate change there. During the Jam, we had very important discussions with people from different parts of Europe. We could hear what is most important for others, from their local perspective”, said Linda Hallengreen from Denmark.

Circle of life

One of the projects was about sharing things. The team built a mobile app circlit. Imagine, you need 60 plates, but you do not want to buy them. You can borrow them, swap for some other items, or get them free from someone who wants to give away plates. The concept promotes reusing things. The team added also a thank you note to encourage people to improve a psychological factor of sharing.

Another presentation was about how to reduce food waste in Bar Laurea, a university cafeteria.

“We developed two prototypes. One is a Lego model of the cafeteria demonstrating how the process would work. The other is a mobile app. The concept is that you can weigh your plate and you pay for the food you take. We believe it will encourage people to think more about how much they consume. It should reduce food waste”, said Henriikka, team facilitator.

Every person eating lunch in the cafeteria weighs his plate again after eating checking how much waste there is and if the waste has decreased or increased from the previous day. The Bar Laurea employees enthusiastically met the idea and decided to introduce it as soon as possible.

Yet another project was about how to encourage people to recycle their phones and other mobile devices. The group made an app, a service to easily donate or resell an old device. Recycling and sorting garbage was a topic of another team. They thought about how to increase recycling on campus. They came up with ideas of properly labeling bins and carefully choosing locations of the bins, so they would be easily available. The team thought also that a proper campaign among students would be needed to spread the idea.

The Circular Economy Jam ended with a final gala in Timo Auditorium on Leppävaara campus. All seven teams presented their prototypes and shared their experiences from the two days of intensive jamming. The audience enthusiastically welcomed all the innovative solutions.

“If we want to change our behaviors, we need constant reminders. Mobile apps can help us it this process”, said Ritva Jäättelä, a lecturer from Laurea and the owner of one of the challenges.

Laurea CE Jam was co-organized with H2020-funded project CIRC4Life, European Social Fund funded CityDrivers-project and Ministry of Education funded Circular Economy UAS-project.

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