‘Gap exploiters are pivotal in the transition to a circular economy,’ says Dr. Conny Bakker, who, as an associate professor at TU Delft, researches Circular Product Design. Gap exploiters repair, refurbish or just sell used products. ‘Gap exploiters transfer would-be waste into stuff of value. We need more of them,’ Bakker says, ‘because individual companies simply cannot construct perfect circular models. Keeping a product at its highest value for as long as possible makes sense, both from an economic and an ecological perspective.’
In her research Bakker explores strategies such as product life extension, reuse, remanufacturing and recycling, and the business models that enable these strategies. A second research interest is the field of user-centred sustainable design, which focuses on exploring the relationships between consumer behaviour, sustainability and design.
Bakker studied Industrial Design in Delft and Environmental Studies in Amsterdam, two fields she combined in her PhD research. She worked as a Programme Manager for Sustainability at the Netherlands Design Institute and as a consultant at Info-Eco, before continuing her scientific career at TU Delft in 2008.
In addition to writing scientific articles and conference papers, Bakker shares her knowledge with the professional world through articles for the Guardian Sustainable Business website, together with Marcel den Hollander (Six Design Strategies for Longer Lasting Products; The right Circular Business Model and Design Strategy for your Product), and the book Products That Last: product design for circular business models (2014), written with Marcel den Hollander, Ed van Hinte and Yvo Zijlstra.