The Opportunity

Circular Product Design is a core pillar of Novo Nordisk's 'Circular for Zero' strategy, but how does one effectively start designing circular products?

The Path

Through a design sprint, a combination of research on circular product design strategies, KPIs and ecodesign implementation were used to prototype the implementation of a new Circular Product Design Guideline.

The result

A new Circular Product Design Guideline and a set of 'leading indicators' to measure the performance of Novo Nordisk's products to be implemented in the company's product development process.

Implementing a new Circular Product Design Guideline in product development


"The MATChE methods provided a valuable scientific depth and pragmatic approach to our process of creating a Circular Product Design Guideline." - Corporate Environmental Strategy Project Lead, Nanja Hedal Kløverpris

The Context

Novo Nordisk is the worlds largest producer of insulin. Insulin devices are saving lives on a daily basis, but are currently not recyclable. That is something Novo Nordisk envisions changing, with the launch of their 'Circular for Zero' strategy, aiming at zero CO2 emissions by 2030, and with one of the sub-goals of the strategy being to achieve recyclability of their devices.

The Opportunity

The launch of the 'Circular for Zero' strategy gave a great opportunity to develop a new 'Circular Product Design Guideline', aimed at helping product developers within Novo Nordisk to use sustainable materials and reduce carbon footprint, based on circular design principles.

The Transition path

The first step on the transition path was for Novo Nordisk to develop an understanding of their current readiness for the circular economy, using the MATChE Readiness Assessment tool. The tool led Novo Nordisk to choose the dimensions ‘Product & Service Innovation’ and ‘Strategy & Business Model Innovation’ as focus areas.

To start the transition, Novo Nordisk and the MATChE team went through a design sprint, where methods on circular product design strategies, leading key performance indicators (KPIs) and research on eco-design implementation were used to challenge and ideate ways for Novo Nordisk to implement CE into their business processes. This initiative resulted in a plan for implementation of CE in the product development process, with a first step being the development of a 'Circular Product Design Guideline' and a set of KPIs to measure the performance of new concepts and current products.

The Outcome

The 'Circular Product Design Guideline' that was developed during the design sprint is now being used to inform R&D employees at Novo Nordisk on how to incorporate circularity into their product development projects. The guide has been used in a 'Circular Design Masterclass', where design teams have been trained in what circularity means for their specific product category.

The 'Circular Product Design Guideline' and the leading KPIs are both means to support the implementation of circular design principles during the product development process. The guideline helps to align and concretize the perception of circularity into the application of clear principles and the leading KPIs help to set targets for new projects, and to track and measure the performance of the circular design concepts.

The Reflections

We asked Corporate Environmental Strategy Project Lead, Nanja Kløverpris to reflect upon working with MATChE during the 'Transition Path' and the 'Readiness Assessment'.
"MATChE provided great input to challenge us on our terminology and to adopt a more systematic and comprehensive way of getting onto a more effective path of transition that we would not otherwise have been able to so effectively."

The Next step

Going from here, the next step for Novo Nordisk is to continuously evaluate the 'Circular Product Design Guideline' and the KPIs in use and over time, and to make minor adjustments and build on the guideline as they get feedback form using this as a tool for sparking innovation.

More information about Novo Nordisk and the Circular for Zero strategy:

Key facts


Focus area for transition path

Strategy & Business Model Innovation
Strategy & Business Model Innovation
Product & Service Innovation
Product & Service Innovation

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