Governments should increasingly emphasise the design stage in their approaches to resource use, encouraging the use of mono-materials and modular construction where appropriate. Governments should take additional steps to prevent planned obsolescence, and to encourage the recycling or upcycling of defunct devices currently stockpiled by consumers.
The National Model Design Code provides tools and guidance to support Local Authorities to embed circular economy principles, while the draft Waste Prevention Programme for England has a chapter dedicated to “Designing out waste”, including a commitment to "set product requirements where this is a necessary step in tackling premature obsolescence".
The Circular Economy Package, produced in collaboration with the four UK administrations, outlines "a revised legislative framework, identifying steps for the reduction of waste and establishing [a] ... long-term path for waste management and recycling".
The Welsh Government’s strategy, Beyond Recycling, sets out its aim of making a circular, low carbon economy in Wales a reality with a set of key actions to deliver the objective of zero waste by 2050. The Scottish Government’s circular economy strategy, Making Things Last, sets out priorities for action to move towards a more circular economy; and Scotland's Zero Waste Plan sets targets to drive circularity. In Northern Ireland, the Department of Agriculture, Environment & Rural Affairs is currently developing an Environment Strategy for Northern Ireland, which will consider Northern Ireland's long-term environmental priorities.
The UKRI’s National Interdisciplinary Circular Economy Research Programme is assessing how to transition towards a more circular economy, highlighting the need for producers to move towards sustainable product design. Limited ‘right to repair’ rules were introduced in the UK from summer 2021, requiring producers to ensure that some durable goods can be repaired using widely available tools for up to 10 years, in addition to providing manuals.
If these plans are able to achieve their stated aims, this recommendation is likely to be met across the UK in the future. Currently, the design stage is not being fully utilised on key issues such as embedded circularity, mono-materials, and modular construction.