Circular design principles #6 remanufacturing | Annie Clementine

Circular Design Principle #6: Remanufacture

Annie Clementine
3 min readMay 16, 2022


This post is part of our ‘Ten Circular Design Principles Series’. In our last post, we explored the principle of ‘Refurbish’ and shared the inspiring work of one of the leaders in circular design, Patagonia, a circular outdoor apparel company. Patagonia uses their platform to solve complex social issues and educate consumers on the importance of sustainability.

Today, we’re taking a closer look into the ‘Remanufacture’ method of circular design. For those of you who are just joining our circular journey, the ten principles have been created by the work of the City of Amsterdam, as part of their Circular City Strategy. We are taking a deeper look into circular design from the lens of the consumer, choosing to challenge the traditional linear model, and view waste as a resource. If you’ve been following along for a while now, you’ve probably realized that many of these circular principles are overlapping. This is an important realization, because it’s a helpful reminder that you or any business looking to become circular, does not need to stick to just one method. In fact, we recommend combining as many as possible to expedite your journey of designing a fully circular supply chain.

Remanufacture:Reuse functioning components of the product to make comparable products.

If you’re anything like us, then you understand our deep appreciation for finding a good t-shirt. You know the type, it’s soft, fits you perfectly, and has a strange way of getting our creative juices (at least for us…). Admittedly, we probably love finding the perfect t-shirt a little too much, and because of that we’ve ended up with a closet filled with branded t-shirts that don’t seem to have any relevance in our life anymore. So we circle back to the problem that we discussed in our ‘Reuse’ circular design post. What do we do with all of our unworn clothes? How do we play an active role as consumers to keep them out of landfills? As we discussed in our ‘Reuse’ post, one solution is Poshmark, an online marketplace that connects second hand clothing buyers, with second hand clothing sellers.

As mentioned earlier in this post, the good news is — that more than one solution exists to the problem of our old habits of wasteful consumption. The company ‘Rapanui’ looked at the massive problem of wasteful fashion and saw an opportunity, specifically, for your old beloved t-shirts.

“100 billion items of clothing are bought each year, and with 3 out of 5 tees bought today thrown away within 12 months, that’s a dump truck of clothing going to landfill every second.”- (Source: Rapanui)

EVERY.SECOND. That is truly what nightmares are made of. So, the founders did what many entrepreneurs do, they looked at this problem of waste and pollution and flipped it on its head. They went above and beyond to make sure their entire process from start to finish was circular. In fact, we’re pretty certain that they have successfully made use of all ten circular design principles, and that is truly amazing.

So how exactly have they made this fully circular supply chain work?

  1. Their t-shirts (and other products) are made entirely from natural materials, using renewable materials. The same goes for their consumer packaging.
    *In our ‘how are circular products designed?’ post, we discussed the importance of material creation being pure from the very beginning of the supply chain, so that remanufacturing is possible.
  2. Every product that they make is designed to be sent back to them once the consumer has worn it out sufficiently. They even offer incentives for the consumers to do this, like free shipping and a coupon to use on your next purchase.
  3. Their new products are made from the material that is recovered from consumers.

And a bonus #4: Their products are all “made to order”, which means that they only make the products once the order is placed, ensuring there is never any waste from excess production.

Next time you’re looking for that perfect t-shirt, consider Rapanui, and while you’re visiting their online store, you can learn even more about just how circular this brand really is.