Digitalisation, a key catalyst of the circular economy

It’s guest posting time. Today, we would like to share with you an article written on our blog by the Circular Economy Club (CEC). This club was founded in London by Anna Tarí. 

This ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ is characterised by increasing digital connectivity between people, products and systems. And driven by the internet and mobile technology, it has been a direct catalyst to unlock a host of opportunities. Advantages that can drive social, economic and environmental benefits (World Economic Forum, 2017). 

The circular economy model is an alternative to the unsustainable linear model in which we live. In the current linear model we take resources, produce, consume and waste. In a circular economy, waste becomes a resource to produce something else. Yet, it is not only about having a good waste management system in place. It is most of all about designing products and services so that we do not generate waste in the first place. It is about thinking systemically about the effect of every product and service in the bigger picture.

Circular economy is the world’s largest opportunity

With the yearly 80% of unrecovered materials from the $3.2 trillion worth that are used only in consumer goods (McKinsey, 2014), the circular economy is the world’s largest opportunity.

Digitalisation has evolved through different levels of introduction, from high levels of cloud connectivity, which can provide companies with data that aids them in creating more effective systems for business and customers, enabling entire ecosystems through greater connectivity.

Companies that aim to be future-fit (become resilient to the fast-changing international business ecosystem) need to both enhance digitalisation and care about their footprint by first improving capturing of data, internal communication, reporting, analysis and transparency, using cloud services and big data. These will undoubtedly prepare them to gain a competitive advantage.

Recently, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation released the Circularity Indicators that will allow companies to use software to monitor and report how they are performing in circular terms. In May 2017, British Standards International published the first guidance to implement the principles of the circular economy (BS 8001).

Find out how to reconcile business with nature

Digitalisation is breaking ground to reconcile business with nature. Smart lighting, energy use, reverse logistics, big data analysis. All aspects and flows of future circular companies are promises than can be kept by harnessing technology”, Anna Tarí, Founder of the Circular Economy Club (CEC), says.

Reconcile business with nature | Iristrace

In addition, technology and specifically mobile technology is also showing us the behavioural change we are living as a society. A shift that surfaces customer values and allow them to enhance them. Stuffgstr, for example, is a mobile application which allows users, from their phones, to upload and then resell, give, share or recycle any item they own. This is a circular example, ensuring components remain at their highest utility value for longer. These values that can become actions thanks to technology.

Effective future-fit systems and real value and quality creation will be competitive advantages. And, any organisation, regardless of location, size, sector or type will be able to gain them. Obtaining competitive advantages will only then be reached by those who first ask themselves:

  • What is our role as a business?
  • And how will we embrace technology to make it thrive for us and for our stakeholders, including our world?

*Article written by the Circular Econymy Club (CEC).

CEC is the international network of over 2,600 circular economy professionals and organisations. CEC’s activity is non-profit, global and open. Anyone can join the club online for free. The club also exists to spur collaboration by connecting professionals, because together we can have a higher impact.

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