Dr. Harald Desing studied mechanical engineering at Technical University of Munich and tested his skills in industry and development cooperation. He finished his PhD at Empa and ETH Zürich on conditions and opportunities of a circular economy within planetary boundaries and has been working as a researcher at the Technology and Society Lab at Empa about accelerated transformations to a fossil-free and circular society since then.
Please share where your passion for your career comes from. Have you always intended to work in this industry? Was there an outstanding moment where your path diverged, and you realised the importance of your profession?
Since I was a child, I always wanted to understand and create technical systems. From very early on, I knew that I wanted to become an engineer. Since my studies, but especially during my industrial experience, I realised the importance of creating better, circular, and sustainable products and technologies. Yet I wasn’t taught on how to do this, neither seemed anyone else to know much more on the “how”. So, I decided to research how to implement circularity and planetary boundaries into product design myself.
What do you see as the biggest challenge in the circularity of digital health devices today?
That circularity is not yet thought of when designing digital health devices. What is important to understand is that circularity is not a property of a product, but a property of the entire system supporting a product. We have thus to design the product together with the circular system, business model, and logistics.
How would you overcome this challenge?
In my opinion, DiCE will make significant advancement when it comes to methods and approaches considering circularity in digital health. But also, there will need to be realisation and appropriate actions on all levels, recognising that health care also needs to be “healthy” for the planet.
How does your expertise relate to DiCE?
I think, my background as a mechanical engineer and researcher on sustainable material cycles can help DiCE develop the necessary system’s view on circular digital health.
What do you expect from DiCE? How will it change the “sustainability landscape”?
DiCE would need to provide easy to use methods and protocols, but also drive legislation and standardisation to include essential systems’ properties into design and operation.