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Students developed new circular economy concepts in 3UAS-project

During this spring’s 3UAS Circular Economy for Sustainable Growth learning lane students got to develop new circular economy service concepts for K-Rauta.

3UAS, a coalition formed by Laurea, Haaga-Helia and Metropolia, organized a circular economy learning lane where students produced new circular service concepts in collaboration with K-Rauta. The teams designed a process in which the products are not simply recycled, but also reused.

- Controlling climate change guides our actions, as it is one of our main strategic points. Our own vision inside the company may be limited and working with students brings us new perspectives and fresh ideas, comments Leena Takaveräjä, responsibility manager at K-group.

Students Lilli Keh, Cecylia Kundera and Anas Abdullah worked together learning about the circular economy business models and developing their own service concept for K-Rauta:

- I learned a lot. Of course I was aware that we are drawing a lot of raw materials and that our resources are limited, but during this course I became more familiar with the steps that have been taken toward circular economy and what kind of measures we can take to put an end to the industrial consumption of natural resources, says Anas Abdullah, Service Business Management student at Laurea.

- We are very proud of the outcome. If you put yourself into it, this course offers great, great tools for your life, work and school, says Lilli Keh, International Business student at Haaga-Helia.

Service design as a part of circular economy

3UAS circular economy learning lane consists of three modules. The journey begun with the students choosing a product and starting to analyze its life cycle.

- We chose porcelain sinks and studied how they are produced and cycled using a Life Cycle Assessment. From there we took this product into our subsequent courses where we used service design to develop a circular service concept and tested it with potential users. In parallel, we developed a circular business model for this solution, says Cecylia Kundera, student in the Laurea Service Innovation and Design MBA’s program.

Laurea was coordinating the service design module. The importance of using service design in circular economy concepts was noted from both the students and K-Rauta:

- Service design was part of the project since the beginning, and it was interesting to see how it was implemented to circular economy, comments Leena Takaveräjä.

- For me, the thing to take forward from this is the combination of service design and circular economy, they both taught me that there are different alternatives to operate a business. Service design process is important when it comes to finding different solutions. A company might think, if no one is buying new things, how can we make money? But circular economy is more about transitioning to services, changing the product to a service, says Anas Abdullah.

Closed cycle brings the product back to the store

Leena Takaveräjä admits that the students’ task to develop new circular service concepts for K-Rauta wasn’t the easiest one, especially with the amount of products available:

- We limited the project so that the concept should be aimed for consumer customers and the products should be manufactured in Finland. I’m fascinated by the idea that we could come up with a closed cycle: as the product is bought from the store, it eventually cycles back to be sold again in some form.

The final product in Cecylia, Lilli and Anas’s team was a circular service concept for porcelain sinks and a prototype of a mobile app, that makes it easy to recycle and re-use more difficult waste. The app also sends notifications to users when their old waste is used in another way - for example, when their old sink is being used as raw material for new tiles that can be sold again.

- It has been interesting to see that you can recycle and re-use everything and anything. It opened my eyes to how ridiculous it is that we use so much new raw materials. I think this is going to be the key during the next ten years for businesses, to implement circular service business model in their processes, says Lilli Keh.

- It was a pleasure to apply my service design skills to circular economy. As circular economy grows into a must-have for businesses and services become interchangeable with products, or even supersede the products, service design transforms into a core skill of the future. It was great to have had the chance to design a circular service solution for such an environmentally conscious company, K-Rauta, says Cecylia Kundera.

3UAS contact info:

Riitta Lehtinen, Metropolia University of Applied Sciences

Mia Ruismäki, Metropolia University of Applied Sciences

Eeva Aarnio, Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences

More information: