1.07 From waste to manufacturing: digital tools to establish virtuous cycles 

Lorenzo Imbesi
Luglio 2023
Giugno 2025
Sapienza Università di Roma

Università degli studi di Napoli Federico II, Università degli Studi di Firenze, Alma Mater Studiorum – Università di Bologna

1.07 From waste to manufacturing: digital tools to establish virtuous cycles 

Il progetto promuove l’uso circolare dei materiali facilitando l’immediata connessione e lo scambio tra gestori dei rifiuti, designer e produttori. In futuro, strumenti e servizi digitali avanzati, integrati tra i vari stakeholder, potrebbero aiutare a rendere il processo di progettazione e produzione più consapevole dal punto di vista della sostenibilità, valorizzando così i rifiuti pre-consumo e post-consumo disponibili localmente. Il progetto beneficerà non solo le catene di fornitura complesse su larga scala, che sono già relativamente ben organizzate, ma anche la produzione e la raccolta su piccola scala, stabilendo nuovi cicli virtuosi e sfruttando picchi temporanei di fornitura di materiali, assistendo così designer e produttori a vari livelli. 


The expected long-term result of the project is making the sourcing of recyclable materials as easy and quick as using primary raw materials, thus empowering more manufacturers of A1-A2 industries (especially minor ones) to efficiently recycle pre/post-consumer waste materials. The project starts from the assumption that advanced digital tools should provide not only ways of exchanging materials and understanding their environmental impact, but also ensure better quality secondary raw materials, with guaranteed quality and potentially interesting aesthetic qualities that may serve as inspiration for unique personalized designs (e.g. reclaimed wood, plastic granules for 3D printing, textiles). The specific results of the project will include: – Mapping and comprehension of the possibilities of waste producing stakeholders, including industries with pre-consumer waste that may be useful for Made in Italy, as well as postconsumer waste management companies. – Mapping and classification of recyclable waste materials that are potentially useful for Made in Italy, identifying the relevant characteristics that determine the potential impact of the facilitated exchange, e.g. the net positive impact of using recycled vs. virgin materials, the effective usability of recycled materials, the overall quantity that may enter in the circular economy through better information. – Comprehension of the designer’s information needs about recycled materials to be integrated in their designs, including the definition of new possible touchpoints with sustainability data and integrating these in new design scenarios. – Comprehension of the manufacturer’s needs of multiple types (e.g. traditional artisanship, digital craft in fablabs, industrial scale production), inquiring about the needs related to various dimensions: preliminary information, provision process, usage logistics, etc. – Definition of useful interaction paradigms according to the state of art of HCI, through the consolidated techniques of user experience design, user interface design, as well as preliminary usability testing. – Definition of a general IT architecture according to the previously defined use cases and experimentation of some key aspects of the digital tools, focusing on functionalities with uncertain feasibility, due to the yet low technology readiness level. – Through Open Calls: possible IT implementation of new proof-of-concept digital tools for usability testing; support to new process experimentations within waste management companies and manufacturers. According to the PE11 plan, among the spoke level results this project supports primarily the proof of concept of quali-quantitative approaches for multi-stakeholder sustainability data exchange and integration in the design process. The project will also contribute to the following other spoke-level results: Improved knowledge on sociotechnical & inclusive organizational systems for human-oriented circular & sustainable advanced design, Models & Methodologies assessing circularity & sustainability of advanced design, Guidelines to adopt circular & sustainable behaviors in advanced design, Observatory of circular and sustainable solutions in designing systems, Education & training activities for students, designers, project production companies.