A stronger focus on safety, health and sustainability is needed in designing circular products. When basic resources are re-used in new products, health risks should be avoided. In addition, recycling is not sustainable if it requires a lot of energy or leads to the emission of harmful substances. RIVM is developing a method to embed safety, health and sustainability into the design of circular products. 

The method aims to make it possible to estimate a product’s safety and sustainability at the beginning of a design process. Designers and other stakeholders will have an important role to play in developing this method. 

Prior to the development of the method, RIVM is investigating what we currently know about safety and sustainability within circular design. We are also exploring how safe and sustainable circular products are now. Our efforts consist of three studies in actual practice on: 

  • Biocapture of CO2 from the air using algae, followed by chemical production based on microalgal technology.
  • Circular design of plastic medical devices.
  • The use of nanomaterials in solar panels.

RIVM Strategic Programme

The method for safe and sustainable circular design (DIRECT) is being developed as part of the RIVM Strategic Programme. Within this programme, RIVM explores current and future topics that have been identified as extremely relevant to society, both now and in the future. New issues related to public health and the environment demand answers. Technological innovations offer us new avenues for finding those answers. 

In adopting this approach, we aim to support our ongoing contribution to improving public health and the environment in the Netherlands.