Circular Economy

Point Vélo EPFL. © François Wavre | Lundi13

What is circularity?

The aim of circular economy is to minimize the use of materials and energy to manufacture goods and services. Designing a “circular” product means ensuring that the various components can remain in the cycle. At the same time, it means optimizing product lifetimes and avoiding waste as far as possible. If waste is generated, it is – by means of collection, separation, treatment and material or thermal recovery – transformed into high-quality secondary raw materials and reused/recycled.

Source: Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN)

Source: Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN)

Source: Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN)

Circular economy reintroduces materials and products into the circuit via the stages of design and production, distribution, consumption and use. At end-of-life, they are collected for recycling or processing.

The figure above shows the additional stages that extend the life of products, increase the intensity of their use and therefore slow down the cycle. In other words, products, energy and materials remain in circulation. The circular economy therefore requires fewer raw materials and enables products to retain their value for longer, while generating less waste.

EPFL initiatives that incorporate the principles of circular economy

  • Carpooling and car-sharing: As part of its Mobility Plan, EPFL provides its community with various car-sharing services.
  • Bike-sharing:
    • Thirteen PubliBike self-service bike stations are located on the UNIL-EPFL campus.
    • The Donkey Republic self-service bicycle network is available in a number of locations in Switzerland, including Neuchâtel (Microcity) and Geneva (Campus Biotech).
    • Velospot replaces PubliBike in central Valais.
    • The EPFL community can borrow Switzerland’s first self-service electric cargobikes free of charge for 12 hours.
  • Point Vélo: At the workshop, we sell around 800 second-hand bicycles a year, collected on campus and from our partners (e.g. local authorities, municipal waste disposal sites). We recover spare parts and reuse most of them on old bicycles, in order to limit the purchase and sale of new parts and thus limit costs for our customers.
  • Point Smart: Smartphone repair service at cost price, offered on Lausanne campus every day between noon and 2 pm, on the Poséidon premises.
  • Fix N’replace: Repair café at SPOT every first Thursday of the month to repair damaged and broken objects rather than throwing them away.
  • SV Workshop: Takeover of laboratory equipment with breakdowns or malfunctions.
  • SESAME equipment exchange platform: Scientific equipment available.
  • EcoPoints: At EPFL, dedicated garbage cans enable everyone to recycle the most common types of waste.
  • rebuiLT: This interdisciplinary MAKE project seeks to reuse elements of a demolished building to create a community pavilion in Ecublens.
  • Reusable crockery: All catering outlets on campus offer returnable crockery for takeaway meals.
  • Molotov: Rental service for reusable crockery.
  • Thermal power plant: EPFL heats and cools itself largely using thermal energy drawn from Lake Geneva.
  • Solar park: EPFL is home to a solar park of almost 16,000 m2 on the roofs and façades of buildings on the Ecublens campus.


Claire Saout

[email protected]