The recipe for circularity
Did you know the longest burning light in history has burnt for 115 years in the Livermore fire station in California? The bulb burnt for one million hours, while the lifespan of a modern light bulb is about 1000 burning hours and of a LED about 5000 burning hours…
– by Peter Koelewijn, 26 April 2017
In 1924 the leading light bulb manufacturers formed the Phoebus cartel, which is suspected of the introduction of planned obsolescence: designing a product with an artificially limited useful life, so it will become obsolete. Nowadays lots of products like smartphones, refrigerators and washing machines are designed for a limited lifespan.
The principle of a circular economy
In 2014 I got inspired by a presentation of the visionary Thomas Rau, who strives for a circular economy by selling services instead of products. In cooperation with Phillips he developed Turntoo, which sells light as a service: instead of buying lamps (a product), customers buy light (a service). The energy bills are covered by Phillips and when a lamp is broken Phillips will replace it. This concept actually makes sense, because the customer is ensured of high quality, no initial investment and sustainable products while at the same time the manufacturer binds its customers.
Designing products with a long lifespan
In 2016 I started at Heinen & Hopman, whose mission is; “to ensure you the perfect indoor climate, regardless of the weather outside”. This directly refers to selling a service as a product. As an R&D engineer I continuously get confronted with the fact that repair activities onboard ships all over the world can become extremely expensive. Breaking down and reconstructing the ceiling and sending a mechanic to a distant destination is costly in terms of both money and time. Therefore we are driven to design reliable products and systems with a long lifespan. In addition, these products need to fulfill other design criteria, such as recyclability, demountability and second life opportunities.
Unconsciously well-prepared for a circular economy
In my experience, Heinen & Hopman is already in the loop. The business wherein the company has been operating for over 50 years, has forced them to excel in developing the most durable systems. With this expertise and rich source of experience, Heinen & Hopman has laid a strong foundation for a circular business model. By developing new products and methods, it should be possible to close more and more loops in a relatively short period of time. Moreover, I doubt whether they themselves are aware of the fact that they are so well-prepared to be part of a circular economy: Heinen & Hopman is already in possession of the right ingredients, now time has come to prepare an inexhaustible recipe.
Peter Koelewijn | R&D Engineer
Peter Koelewijn has been working at Heinen & Hopman since 2016. During his study Building Technologies he discovered he’s part of a generation which is capable of realizing the transition from a consuming society to a producing society. His focus is on developing the most sustainable products for Heinen & Hopman.