Design for and from recycling: practical guidelines for designers

(28-05-2021) The Centre of Polymer and Material Technologies (CPMT) recently drafted guidelines to help designers and manufacturers integrate life cycle thinking in the design for electrical and electronic equipment as a result of the PolyCE H2020 project.

The Centre of Polymer and Material Technologies (CPMT) is part of the Horizon 2020 PolyCE project working on the recycling of the polymer fraction coming from e-waste (Waste of Electronic and Electrical Equipment - WEEE). This waste consists of different kinds of plastics and the challenge is to better facilitate separation and maintain material purity in recycling processes. 

The most recent results are the design guidelines developed by industry experts and academia alike. Switching from linear to circular design thinking will require practical solutions for the design of electronic products. These guidelines are made to both reflect the latest status on e-waste collection and recycling, as well as be practical for product designers. 

 Download these guidelines for free!

Good design delivers valuable solutions during AND after use

A world without plastic is unthinkable nowadays, and for most of us plastics have become part of everyday life. In the space of about seventy years, the production of plastic has increased from 1.5 million tonnes in 1950 to 368 million tonnes in 2019. Today, in Europe the plastics industry has a yearly turnover of more than 360 billion EUR and the sector employs more than 1.6 million people. 

As a result, the waste streams generated are of growing concern. Waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) is considered one of the fastest-growing waste streams in the EU3 and globally. 

However, not only design FOR but also design FROM recycling strategies play a key role in closing the material loop. Today, most of the recycled materials are used in so-called ‘bulk products’ in construction, transport or infrastructure facilities and mainly for (low) quality reasons. To achieve sustainability-oriented innovation within the plastics industry guidelines and development standards on environmentally conscious design and achievable quality are needed.

Who are these guidelines for?

The guidelines in this book are developed for a specific group: designers and engineers of electronic devices. The guidelines focus on circular plastics design and explain how to design plastic housings and inner parts in a circular manner. It considers the Design for and Design from Recycling strategies, two fundamental approaches to understand circular product development. They can be used by designers and manufacturers of electrical and electronic equipment to advance in their sustainability goals.


Four years ago, a consortium of 20 expert organisations from 9 European member states joined forces to investigate how to improve the circular use of plastics in products. Their goal was to significantly reduce the use of virgin plastics and increase the use of recycled plastics in electronic devices. This project, called the PolyCE project (Post-consumer high-tech recycled polymers for a circular economy), was commissioned and funded by the European Commission and presented a challenge to transform the lifecycle of plastic materials used for electronic devices into a sustainable one. In the past four years many realizations have been accomplished like the Senseo Viva Cafe Eco by Philips, which also won the Plastics Recycling Awards Europe 2020.

In cooperation with: Philips, Fraunhofer IZM, Whirlpool, KU Leuven and Pezy Group.


Technologiepark Zwijnaarde 130 (zone C3)
9052 Zwijnaarde
T 0032 (0)9 331 03 91