The Circular Economy

Makerspaces are community assets that can support the establishment of a circular economy by encouraging circular approaches to design, contributing to local production and economic activity, extending the life of materials and things, and fostering innovation and skills development.

Specifically, this includes:
The Circular Economy
(source: Green Industries SA)
Makerspaces and other community-based shared fabrication spaces offer ways to help people develop materials literacy, reconnecting people to the origin of their material lives, and acting as catalysts for cultural transformation, enabling and demonstrating changes to the way we design, make, use and dispose of materials.

They offer people a means of actively participating in provisioning for themselves, rather than being passive recipients of an often impenetrable supply chain and associated invisible environmental and social impacts scattered across the globe. They offer potential to challenge the primacy of consumption and culture of disposability, and they invite people to remember and (re)discover they are citizens, not just consumers. These wider cultural shifts are critical in order to meet the objective of creating a circular economy.

Measuring the Impact of the Circular Economy at Makerspace Adelaide

SA Makers, in partnership with State government agency and Makerspace Adelaide Founding Sponsor Green Industries SA, and waste, recycling and resource management specialists Rawtec, hosted a circular economy workshop at Makerspace Adelaide on 22 September 2020.

Waste educators, designers, data geeks, statisticians, hackers and lateral thinkers were invited to contribute their ideas and insights to an important challenge:
It’s reasonably easy - and a traditional metric and performance indicator in the waste and recycling industry - to measure waste to landfill, or materials diverted for recycling. But how do we keep track of a variety of materials that have been reused, such as offcuts or salvaged/donated? And is it possible to measure avoided consumption? How do we define avoided consumption, and differentiate it from materials that displace consumption through repair, reuse, remanufacturing?

The aim of the workshop was to determine how to measure and communicate the value of 'circular' practices in a makerspace, and their contribution to circular economy objectives.

This workshop was a hands-on session where participants looked at the circularity of products designed and used in the Makerspace in a ‘product teardown’. Four workstations were set up for textiles, electronics, plastics and wood, reflecting materials used and activities undertaken at the makerspace. Participants were split into teams of 4-5 people and assigned a station.

At the station, they worked as a team through two activities – firstly, investigating the circularity of product design, including material use/origin, ease of disassembly, repairability and recyclability. They were led through a series of questions to help them assess the products, and physically measure and record the findings. Participants then also considered how the products might be redesigned to improve circularity, and how this approach could be encouraged at the makerspace.

Rawtec have complied the workshop findings into this report:
Download Rawtec Workshop Summary Report (PDF)

Circular Economy Workshop - Open Source Materials

If your Makerspace or Fab Lab would like to run this workshop, you can use our materials and adapt them to your own local needs (acknowledgement of the source would be appreciated):


This workshop was designed and delivered by SA Makers, Green Industries SA and Rawtec.

Workshop designers: David Riley, Sharon Ede, Kat Heinrich, Oliver Lovat & Kristian Le Gallou
Workshop presenters: Ian Overton, Sharon Ede, David Riley & Kat Heinrich
Facilitators: Kat Heinrich, Sharon Ede, Oliver Lovat, Adara Wright, Bojana Stefanovska, Kristian Le Gallou
Materials experts: Matthew Bagnara, William Chappel, Miheer Fyzee, Len Riley & David Riley
Videographer: Miriam Yip of Environment and Science Media

Thank you to all of the participants, including representatives from Adelaide’s universities, local and international businesses, the charitable recycling sector, local and State government policy makers and program managers, waste educators, repair cafes and the social enterprise sector.

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