Topic 5 Current Patterns

Circular economy aims to maintain the prior value of materials, products and especially resources in the long-term context by bringing back into the production cycle following their usage to minimize the waste generation. Current trends on CE:

The world generates huge amounts of waste annually where the majority of this waste ends up in landfills. In this matter, circular economy retains the value of products or resources by putting them back into the product cycle after use. In addition to the mechanical recycling, one of the biggest circular economy trends is to upcycle this waste to energy.

One of the top circular economy trends is reuse where products extend their lifecycle while reducing waste and the use of new raw materials. However, in practice there is the lack of information regarding the available products for reuse. Today, platforms with various types of sharing are emerging. One of the platform examples is asset sharing which specifically allows entrepreneurs to earn revenue through lending materials and/or machines which actually remain unused.

During the last decades, municipalities and waste management companies have spent huge amounts of money and resources to collect waste through traditional systems. Fixed schedules and trash capacity of dumpsters are some of the systems’ failure aspects. Thus, several start-ups are developing smart waste management (IoT-based) solutions to reduce the inefficiencies in waste collection. Smart bins, IoT platforms, sensors and mobile applications are developed solutions where real-time fill level information and collection schedule to waste collectors are saving time, fuel and manpower. 

Separation of garbage and further sorting process is an important stage in effective waste collection and management. Majority of the facilities for waste management have single-sort systems resulting in recycling failures of mixing plastics together with cardboards and other waste. AI-controlled sensors recognize different items from various materials as well as refine the ones from the same materials.

Non-renewable materials and products are high risks for environmental pollution. Today, several companies produce bio-based materials from renewable resources thus classified as circular economy top trend. Bio-based materials are easier to recycle, reducing carbon footprints and being potentially compostable. In this matter, sustainable solutions in packaging, healthcare, construction and automotive sectors are emerging.

Recycling and re-manufacturing reduces waste, protects the balance of resources in nature. Recycling uses higher amount of energy and converts a product into raw material to create new products. Manufacturing includes rebuilding of a product with what was reused and repaired, and taking new elements to make it as efficient as original one.

One of the top emerging trends enabling the functioning of circular economy is the blockchain that is both transparent and traceable, and is encouraging circular behaviour More and more start-ups are using blockchain constancy to verify the origin of products verifying sustainable claims for their business sectors.

To extend the life cycle of the products, reusing concepts have been followed. However, a long lifespan results in unfit products. The emerging trend of repair solutions extends the life of products, as well as reduces waste and use of new raw materials. Therefore, repair solutions are an important circular economy trend and businesses are including the concepts to reduce the carbon footprint and save costs for raw materials.