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Special Issue "Users’ Contributions to Closing the Loop and Their Implications for Design"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Psychology of Sustainability and Sustainable Development".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 May 2022) | Viewed by 2786

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Renee Wever
E-Mail
Guest Editor
Department of Management and Engineering (IEI), Linköping University, 581 83 Linköping, Sweden
Interests: design for sustainable behavior; waste behaviour through packaging design; design engineering; design thinking; creativity and innovation; business development
Dr. Nazli Terzioglu-Özkan
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Design, Brunel University London, Uxbridge UB8 3PH, UK
Interests: user perspectives; product repair; circular economy; visible repair
Dr. Bas Flipsen
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering, Delft University of Technology, 152628 CE Delft, The Netherlands
Interests: inner circles of the circular economy; repair and refurbish; circular product architecture design

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue aims to collect up-to-date research articles that explore consumer and user perspectives on circular design strategies for closing the loop. Many circular solutions depend on the ultimate user of those systems to accept alternative business models (other than outright ownership) and to perform certain actions essential to closing the loop and essential to keeping products in the inner loops. This includes the willingness to pay for access or pay per use, willingness to accept pre-used products, willingness to repair or have a product repaired, and willingness to separate waste.

Although the discourse regarding circular economy mainly focuses on the business and production aspects, the active participation of all actors of the system including users and consumers is crucial to facilitate a successful transition to a circular system. Hence, recent years have seen a growing number of scientific publications on, for example, the user perspectives (Wastling et al., 2018) as well as an increase of the calls for investigations into the implications of the circular economy for those on the side of consumption and use. Consumers’ involvement is crucial for the circular economy, for example, in order to enable the return of products for reuse, repair and remanufacturing, as well as the collection of waste for recycling (Ghisellini et al., 2016). Moreover, understanding consumers’ perspectives could have an impact on reducing resource consumption, increasing the repair, remanufacturing, and recycling rates and raising the innovation potential of products and services (Lofthouse and Prendeville, 2017). The importance of consumers and their perspectives for the circular economy raise interesting, new questions for research on sustainability:

  • What kind of services and/or products were needed to increase the consumers’ engagement in the strategies of closing the loop?
  • Under which conditions do consumers engage (more or less) with the strategies of closing the loop?
  • How do customer perspectives differ across different types of circular design strategies?
  • Under which circumstances is repair economically viable for consumers?
  • What design strategies engage customers in relation to different types of circular business models?
  • What are the implications for design of consumers’ contributions to closing the loop?
  • What are the factors that affect consumers’ willingness to separate waste?
  • What measures can be taken to increase consumers’ willingness to separate waste?
  • How do consumers respond to the measures taken to increase their waste separation practices?
  • What kind of services and/or products were needed to increase the consumers’ willingness to separate waste?

Ghisellini, P., Cialani, C., & Ulgiati, S. (2016). A review on circular economy: The expected transition to a balanced interplay of environmental and economic systems. Journal of Cleaner Production, 114, 11-32.

Lofthouse, V. A., & Prendeville, S. (2017). Considering the user in the circular economy in C. Bakker, R. Mugge (Eds.), Product Lifetimes and the Environment 2017 Conference Proceedings, IOS Press, Delft, The Netherlands (2017), pp. 213-216.

Wastling, T., Charnley, F., & Moreno, M. (2018). Design for circular behaviour: Considering users in a circular economy. Sustainability, 10(6), 1743.

Prof. Dr. Renee Wever
Dr. Nazli Terzioglu-Özkan
Dr. Bas Flipsen
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • user perspectives
  • consumer perspectives
  • closing the loop
  • repair
  • waste separation willingness
  • circular design
  • circular economy
  • sustainability
  • sustainable consumption

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

Article
A Psychological Ownership Based Design Tool to Close the Resource Loop in Product Service Systems: A Bike Sharing Case
Sustainability 2022, 14(10), 6207; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14106207 - 19 May 2022
Viewed by 506
Abstract
Closing the loop of products and materials in Product Service Systems (PSS) can be approached by designers in several ways. One promising strategy is to invoke a greater sense of ownership of the products and materials that are used within a PSS. To [...] Read more.
Closing the loop of products and materials in Product Service Systems (PSS) can be approached by designers in several ways. One promising strategy is to invoke a greater sense of ownership of the products and materials that are used within a PSS. To develop and evaluate a design tool in the context of PSS, our case study focused on a bicycle sharing service. The central question was whether and how designers can be supported with a design tool, based on psychological ownership, to involve users in closing the loop activities. We developed a PSS design tool based on psychological ownership literature and implemented it in a range of design iterations. This resulted in ten design proposals and two implemented design interventions. To evaluate the design tool, 42 project members were interviewed about their design process. The design interventions were evaluated through site visits, an interview with the bicycle repairer responsible, and nine users of the bicycle service. We conclude that a psychological ownership-based design tool shows potential to contribute to closing the resource loop by allowing end users and service provider of PSS to collaborate on repair and maintenance activities. Our evaluation resulted in suggestions for revising the psychological ownership design tool, including adding ‘Giving Feedback’ to the list of affordances, prioritizing ‘Enabling’ and ‘Simplification’ over others and recognize a reciprocal relationship between service provider and service user when closing the loop activities. Full article
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Article
Exploring and Addressing the User Acceptance Issues Embedded in the Adoption of Reusable Packaging Systems
Sustainability 2022, 14(10), 6146; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14106146 - 18 May 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 544
Abstract
Plastic in the linear consumption model is frequently manufactured and disposed of, leading to the creation of excessive plastic waste, which has significant consequences for the environment. Single-use food packaging waste is a large constituent of plastic waste that needs to be addressed [...] Read more.
Plastic in the linear consumption model is frequently manufactured and disposed of, leading to the creation of excessive plastic waste, which has significant consequences for the environment. Single-use food packaging waste is a large constituent of plastic waste that needs to be addressed urgently. The implementation of reusable packaging systems (RPSs) to close the loop of consumption appears to be promising, but the insights into consumers’ willingness to accept them are limited. This research investigates the aspect of consumers’ adoption of RPSs by identifying the particular user acceptance issues and eventually providing a set of design recommendations to address them. The data collection methods are remote interviews, engaging with 42 participants in three iterations, to evaluate three user experiences of RPSs in order to identify the user acceptance issues. After the user acceptance issues are identified in each iteration, the Theory of Attitude-Behaviour-Context is employed to advance the understanding of the acceptance issues. In order to continuously refine the user experiences, insights from design for sustainable behaviour are applied to address the user acceptance issues. The research results include three refined user experiences, four user acceptance issues—namely hygiene, usability, finance and motivation—and design recommendations to address those user acceptance issues. This research may be of interest to packaging professionals, and could be used to design and refine the RPSs to induce consumers’ adoption. Full article
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Article
Consumer Demand for Circular Products: Identifying Customer Segments in the Circular Economy
Sustainability 2021, 13(22), 12348; https://doi.org/10.3390/su132212348 - 09 Nov 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 985
Abstract
Understanding consumer preferences in the circular economy can help producers develop profitable strategies, lowering the risk involved in transitioning to circular business models and circular product design. This study uses a choice experiment to identify customer segments for mobile phones and robot vacuum [...] Read more.
Understanding consumer preferences in the circular economy can help producers develop profitable strategies, lowering the risk involved in transitioning to circular business models and circular product design. This study uses a choice experiment to identify customer segments for mobile phones and robot vacuum cleaners at different levels of circularity. The experiment observes how a product’s theoretical Circular Economy Score (ranging from 0 to 100) influences consumer preferences as compared to other product attributes like price, appearance, warranty, battery life, reseller type, or ease of repair. Drawing from 800 UK respondents, the results indicate the presence of three customer segments that are sensitive to a product’s Circular Economy Score, including two that appear willing to purchase recirculated items and one that expresses a preference against them. The results offer initial evidence that a market for recirculated consumer electronics exists and that circularity labeling is a marketable option. The results also present a strong rationale for further research that probes a greater variety of products and contexts. Full article
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