Product design and business model strategies for a circular economy

The transition from a linear to a circular economy requires a range of strategic and practical practical challenges for companies. What are the product design and business model strategies for companies that want to move to a circular economy model?

The following paper (open access) discusses some potential design and business model strategies to support the move to a Circular Economy. Building on the work by Walter Stahel, the strategies of slowing, closing, and narrowing resource loops are introduced.

Slowing loops is about strategies to design long-life products and extend the useful life of products, for example through reuse and repair and new service-driven business models. It is about reuse of long-life products. Closing loops is concerned with closing the loop post consumer-use through recycling, resulting in a circular flow of resources. It is about reuse of materials. Narrowing loops is about resource efficiency, using fewer resources per product. It is about using fewer resources in the product design and production process phases.


Figure 1: Strategies of closing, slowing and narrowing resource loops. Source: Bocken, de Pauw, van der Grinten and Bakker (2016). 


Different business model strategies and product design strategies are formulated to help slow, close and narrow resource loops. Figure 2 gives an example of the business model strategies which have been used as a framework for the book “Circular Business – Collaborate and Circulate”. 

With these strategies in mind, companies can start looking for new options to innovate their designs and business models to start the transition to a Circular Economy.


Figure 2. Framework to assess circular projects and businesses in the book. Source: Kraaijenhagen, van Oppen and Bocken (2016),  p. 30. 




Bocken, N.M.P., de Pauw, I., van der Grinten, B., Bakker, C. 2016. Product design and business model strategies for a circular economy. Journal of Industrial and Production Engineering, 32 (1), 67-81.

Kraaijenhagen, C., Van Oppen, C., Bocken, N. 2016. Circular business. Collaborate & Circulate. Circular Collaboration, Amersfoort, The Netherlands. Available at