Designing Away Waste: A Comparative Analysis of Urban Reuse and Remanufacture Initiatives

Designing Away Waste: A Comparative Analysis of Urban Reuse and Remanufacture Initiatives

Transformation towards the circular city or circular society is a long process, which is hardly explored. It is a process where the outcomes are not fully predictable. Despite the fact that a lot of research was already initiated in the last years to assess the outcomes, to make a step from into implementation remains even more challenging.  We are very honored to have among our bright team, researchers trying not only to understand circular economy challenges but also bringing into practice.

We would like to share with you the article of Isabel Ordonez, written in cooperation with Technische Universität Berlin and Chalmers University of Technology – Gothenburg


In order to transform the economy into one that is circular, that recovers most materials through reuse, remanufacturing and recycling, these activities need to grow significantly. Waste management has substantially incorporated recycling as an end-of-life treatment but has still largely failed to incorporate remanufacturing and reuse as possible material recovery routes. This article aims to provide useful information to establish centers for urban remanufacture (CUREs), by analyzing fifteen existing initiatives that facilitate reuse and remanufacture by providing access to secondary materials or manufacturing tools. The study consists of a review of selected initiatives complemented with targeted interviews to fill in missing information. Most initiatives provided access to secondary materials (13 of 15 initiatives), and almost all used different manufacturing tools (14 of 15 initiatives). Besides their regular opening hours, initiatives were mainly engaged in capacity building activities, which were done through predefined or improvised workshops. Most initiatives relied on external support to finance their operations (9 of 15 initiatives). However, one of the self-financed initiatives is the oldest initiative in the study, operating since 1998. Based on the results and tacit knowledge collected in this study, a framework is suggested to serve as a guide for establishing future CUREs.

full article
From research into practice

This article demonstrates only the first steps towards the realization of Centers for Urban Remanufacture. Currently, Isabel, together with an extended team of local Berlin actors works to establish such center in Berlin. There are ambitious plans and a long way to go, what we have already identified engagement of the local re-use, repair community and collaboration with creative industry is essential steps. Another important pillar to move forward in establishing the common collaborative ground for the local actors throughout the participatory approach. This is a very important realization because common engagement is the only way to enhance knowledge development for local operation of the circular economy. To learn more, join us also on the event on the 7th of May, where next steps for the project current named Haus der Materialisierung will be discussed.

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