Flow Mapper

A tool aiming to enable the Fast-Moving Consumer Goods sector to transition to the Circular Economy

The Flow Mapper is a tool that can be used to model systems that produce closed-loop resource flows. The model provides stakeholders in the Fast-Moving Consumer Goods sector with a holistic view of systems. This view enables companies to make informed decisions for products and systems for the Circular Economy.

System modelling

The Flow Mapper is used to develop a non-physical model of the system. The tool guides users to build this model by positioning the flow of resources as processes. The processes are enabled by the system.

Facilitate collaboration

The model is collaboratively developed during a short interaction in a virtual context. Teams consist of cross-company stakeholders and with technical and commercial knowledge along the entire resource flow.

Pragmatic and accessible

The latest version of the tool is the Flow Mapper 1.0. The tool is used in Mural which is a digital workspace to facilitate virtual and visual collaboration. The Flow Mapper uses step by step instructions to guide users through the modelling method.

The Flow Mapper process

The Flow Mapper translates the system modelling method into a three-phase process.

Phase 1: input

The team aligns on the specific case to which the Flow Mapper is applied. The case includes a resource, a flow and a system. The Flow Mapper can be applied to cases with existing or conceptual aspects.

Phase 2: modelling

The model of the resource flow system is developed in three steps. First, through visualisations of the resource in flow which helps the users to find the narrative of their flow. Second, through processes which refine the movement and transformation of the resource. And, third, by identifying pivotal processes to indicate possible failure and successes of the system.

Phase 3: action

Finally, the holistic model is given further depth through system elements that enable the pivotal processes. This analysis provides users with insights on the system which can be used, for example, to identify risks and opportunities for products and systems for the Circular Economy.


The Flow Mapper is based on the doctoral research at the Dyson School of Design Engineering at Imperial College London.

Anouk Zeeuw van der Laan - PhD Candidate and Lead Researcher
Marco Aurisicchio - Associate Professor and Principal Investigator

  • Zeeuw van der Laan A, Aurisicchio M, 2020, A framework to use product-service systems as plans to produce closed-loop resource flows, Journal of Cleaner Production, Vol:252, ISSN:0959-6526, Pages:1-15. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2019.119733

  • Zeeuw van der Laan A, Aurisicchio M, 2019, Archetypical consumer roles in closing the loops of resource flows for Fast-Moving Consumer Goods, Journal of Cleaner Production, Vol:236, ISSN:0959-6526. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2019.06.306

  • Aurisicchio M, Zeeuw van der Laan A, Tennant M, 2019, Material-Service Systems for Sustainable Resource Management, EcoDesign 2019

  • Zeeuw van der Laan A, Aurisicchio M, 2019, Designing Product-Service Systems to Close Resource Loops: Circular Design Guidelines, CIRP Lifecycle Engineering, Elsevier BV, Pages:631-636, ISSN:2212-8271. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.procir.2019.01.079

  • Zeeuw van der Laan A, Aurisicchio M, 2019, Gateways to Revalorisation in Future Circular Cities: A Vision for Closed-Loop Resource Flows, Sustainable Innovations 22nd International Conference

  • Zeeuw van der Laan, A, & Aurisicchio, M, 2017, Planned Obsolescence in the Circular Economy. PLATE Conference, 446–452. https://doi.org/10.3233/978-1-61499-820-4-446


The development of the Flow Mapper is interactive and participatory. We have developed various paper-based and virtual versions of the Flow Mapper. The versions are tested through workshops, using illustrative and industrial cases. We continue to evaluate the Flow Mapper in case studies to further its development.

Future work

In further development of the Flow Mapper we will be considering to extend the following capabilities:

  • Develop a stand-alone software-based version of the Flow Mapper 2.0.

  • Expand the system modelling by including system configuration features.

  • Expand the system analysis by comparing, scoring and evaluating models.

  • Translating analyses and models into implementation action plans.


The Flow Mapper 1.0 is available for industrial case studies through consultancy work.

For more information on the Flow Mapper or consultancy enquiries: info@flow-mapper.com

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