Amina Pereno, Asja Aulisio, and Silvia Barbero
Dyeing plants are an endemic resource that powered the European textile industry for centuries until the advent of synthetic pigments led to their complete abandonment. Today, interest in natural dyes is growing again, but the socio-technical complexity of modern supply chains requires more than technological updating. The problem must be framed through a systemic perspective that allows grasping the past and the present to foster a new, sustainable development of the sector. The ECOLOR project aims at investigating the development opportunities of natural dyeing value chains in the Piedmont Region (Italy), within a circular economy framework. Design acts as a process facilitator, mediating between different academic disciplines and multiple industrial and regional stakeholders to ensure a broad approach to the topic. The paper presents the methodology adopted, which combines the experimentation of industrial technologies with the exploration of socio-technical systems through specific systemic design tools, such as the Holistic Diagnosis, to define potential circular solutions. The study opens reflections on a multi-level approach to technology that does not neglect the socio-cultural dimension of local value chains. Moreover, it presents the potentials and limits of an interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral design process, laying the foundations for the future implementation of local circular systems.
Keywords: socio-technical systems, sustainability transition, circular economy, dyeing plants, cross-sectoral collaboration