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New opportunities from an environmental focus in service design

Students who participated in the 3AMK study path on the circular economy describe their experiences.

"When you think about the circular economy and the related challenges, you often first consider ways in which individuals can help make the world more sustainable. The 3AMK study path broadened our insight into the challenges that a linear economic model poses in view of the planet’s carrying capacity. We got tools that we can use in our work to maintain the environmental perspective as part of decision-making in companies.

The module began with Metropolia’s part, where we learned about the fundamentals of the circular economy and of the complexity of product manufacture. It opened our eyes to the dysfunctionality of the linear economic model. We got a clear picture of the volume of waste and the problems related to recycling on an international scale, as well as of the benefits of reusing raw materials. It also made us think about our own consumption habits.

During the course, we made a Life Cycle Assessment of a smartphone. It helped us identify the critical points and targets of development of the device. Knowing how to perform such an analysis will certainly be useful at work in the future.

Towards concrete ideas with the help of service design

In the part provided by Haaga-Helia and Laurea, we began working on the Hertsi shopping centre project. It was both interesting and inspiring to engage in service design following circular-economy business models. The Double Diamond process and the tools we used ensured a smooth progress in service development.

Following the process, we arrived at a solution that we found to meet Hertsi’ needs in many ways and that benefited consumers, the shopping centre and the principle of sustainable development. Our idea was to challenge shopping centres’ traditional approach of attracting customers to events solely based on advantageous prices.

We believe that there are also other ways to provide added value to consumers. Our idea for an event, going under the name Circular Days, was based on the needs and wishes of customers in the area. Such an event would generate more revenue and bring more customers to the shopping centre, in addition to helping Hertsi stand out from other shopping centres. We strongly believe that this is feasible in the real world and is not just another fun study assignment.

Distance learning worked smoothly

At first, we encountered some challenges with remote work, but on the other hand, it suited us well. Perhaps even better than face-to-face meetings, since we all study at different institutions, have families and live in different parts of the metropolitan area. Because of this, we began working remotely in early spring, and when the state of emergency kicked in, our activities only needed some fine-tuning.

We held a remote meeting at the beginning of each work stage. We openly discussed our thoughts and ideas concerning the project, distributed the tasks and scheduled our activities. We had no trouble with work distribution. We took our individual strengths and wishes into account when assigning the tasks. Our team also benefited from each of us having several years of work experience and skills, which we were able to put to good use in the project."
This article was written by students Maria Lantermino (Haaga-Helia, Open University of Applied Sciences), Anni Pärssinen (Metropolia) and Anu Henttonen (Haaga-Helia).