Mobile phone pioneer encourages Scotland to embrace circular economy

Smartphone usage across the world has soared but many of the devices are used for just a few years before being binned. Picture: PA
Smartphone usage across the world has soared but many of the devices are used for just a few years before being binned. Picture: PA
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An influential designer who has worked on some of the world’s most popular mobile phones is to visit Edinburgh to speak on the benefits of adopting a more “circular” manufacturing sector.

Tapani Jokinen, who helped develop the multi-million selling Nokia 3310 and 1100 cellphones, will deliver the latest in a series of lectures organised by Zero Waste Scotland on the need for a circular economy - in which materials are kept in high value use for as long as possible and goods and services are designed to ensure longevity.

It has been estimated that creating a circular economy, which finds profitable uses for waste while promoting remanufacture and alternatives to ownership, could save around £1.5 billion a year in Scotland alone, while creating a new generation of jobs and skills.

Joninken heads up a team of designers based in Finland working on the world’s first circular economy smartphone, the PuzzlePhone.

“Circular design marries the best of user-centred innovation and design thinking with lifecycle thinking,” he said.

It’s about sustainable design practices to produce better products for people, planet and business.

“In nature systems are circular – there is no waste. Sustainability is the world´s greatest design and innovation challenge.”

With 25 years’ experience in technology, Tapani describes his shift into circular design as an exciting opportunity – but also a creative obligation.

“For me, great success comes with greater responsibility,” he added. “There is a misuse of creativity today, where designers are used to creating more waste – not finding solutions to reduce it.

“There are 5.6billion adults in the world and soon they will all have smartphones. The useful life of consumer products is getting ever-shorter – and most of these products are still functioning when they are discarded. Planet Earth can´t tolerate it, and we have to change.”

With the PuzzlePhone, a smartphone and PuzzleIOT designed with the circular economy in mind, Tapani and his team aim to embed durability, modularity, reparability, optimised logistics and return manufacturing.

He said: “Our vision for the PuzzlePhone is to bring sustainable choices to the smartphone market – a modular mobile-phone design that extends the lifespan of the phones and thereby significantly reduces mobile phone related e-waste.

“Tomorrow is designed today, and the world need forerunners to spearhead positive change.”

It’s why Tapani says he’s delighted to be sharing his expertise in Scotland.

Recognised as a leading circular economy nation, with a global Circulars Award presented at the World Economic Forum in Davos last year, the circular economy is embedded in Scottish policy – including the country’s Economic Strategy and Manufacturing Action Plan.

It’s a move Tapani thinks will stand Scotland in good stead.

“The Scottish Government’s proactive approach to embrace the potential of the circular economy by motivating, influencing and enabling change will result in a competitive advantage for Scottish industries and brands in the near future,” he said.

“Scotland is driving, not just adapting to, change.”

Tapani Jokinen will deliver his lecture as part of Zero Waste Scotland’s Circular Manufacturing Lecture Series.

It will take place at the South Hall Complex, University of Edinburgh, on Wednesday, March 14 at 5.30pm.

Places are free but limited, and can be booked on the Zero Waste Scotland website.