Circular Economy – Thematic Intelligence

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Circular Economy Thematic Report Overview

The circular economy seeks to eliminate waste and pollution, keep products and materials in use, and regenerate natural systems. In the traditional linear economy, businesses typically follow a take, make, use, and dispose of the path, with minimal regard for the resources used and the environmental consequences. However, public pressure to mitigate climate change, combat biodiversity loss, and preserve scarce resources is rising. Proactively adopting circular practices can help businesses stay ahead of the evolving regulatory environment and avoid penalties. Sustainable businesses will likely disrupt linear counterparts by offering greater efficiency, long-term sustainability, and regulatory compliance.

The circular economy thematic report provides an overview of the circular economy, tracks its rise to prominence, and evaluates the potential for further progress. It also includes GlobalData’s circular economy framework, which demonstrates how a product’s lifecycle is circular through the production and service cycles. This thematic study also identifies the technologies enabling the circular economy. Furthermore, the circular economic thematic study covers key geographic regions and economic policies in the EU, the US, and China.

Circular Economy Framework ·       The Circular Production Cycle

·       The Circular Service Cycle

Key Technology Enabling the Circular Economy ·       3D Printing

·       Advanced Materials

·       Artificial Intelligence

·       Digital Twins

·       Electric Vehicles

Key Geographic Regions ·       The EU

·       China

·       The US

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Circular Economy Framework

GlobalData’s circular economy framework demonstrates how a product’s lifecycle is circular through the production cycle and the service cycle. Firstly, the circular production cycle outlines how products are designed and produced. Secondly, the circular service cycle outlines how products are used and repaired.

GlobalData’s Circular Economy Framework

GlobalData’s Circular Economy Framework

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Circular Economy – Key Technologies

A plethora of technologies can help drive the transition from a linear to a circular economy. They include 3D printing, advanced materials, artificial intelligence (AI), batteries, blockchain, digital twins, electric vehicles (EVs), the Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, smart cities, and synthetic biology. AI and robotics will be key technologies across most parts of the circular economy framework.

Artificial Intelligence (AI): Aspects of the circular economy framework that can benefit from AI include ecodesign, sustainable manufacturing, repair, recycling, and sharing. While many AI vendors have been guilty of over-promising, now is the time to use it to realize the circular economy’s potential. Advances in low- or no-code options, context-aware computing, and automated machine learning will allow AI to solve problems, learn, and plan for the circular future.

Technology Impact Analysis Matrix

Technology Impact Analysis Matrix

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Circular Economy – Geographical Analysis

Circular economy practices are gaining traction globally as countries realize the need to protect the world’s finite resources. The speed of transition to the circular economy will vary across regions due to diverse policy frameworks, infrastructure, economic conditions, and cultural attitudes. The EU leads the circular economy policy development efforts. The EU’s approach to circular economy is the most comprehensive and includes reimagining product design, reverse logistics, and waste management as part of its Circular Economy Action Plan. The EU’s CEAP aims to reduce pressure on natural resources and double the region’s circular material use rate (CMUR) in the coming decade. CMUR measures an economy’s circularity and is defined as the ratio of the circular use of materials to the overall material use.

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The circular economy is a fundamentally different approach to how products are designed, produced, and used, in which economic progress is decoupled from the consumption of Earth’s finite resources. The global economy must shift from a linear model to a circular one to tackle resource scarcity and climate change. This report provides an overview of the circular economy, tracks its rise to prominence, and evaluates the potential for further progress. It also includes GlobalData’s circular economy framework, which demonstrates how a product’s lifecycle is circular through the production cycle and the service cycle. Finally, it identifies the technologies enabling the circular economy, including 3D printing, advanced materials, artificial intelligence, batteries and energy storage, blockchain, digital twins, electric vehicles, the Internet of Things, robotics, smart cities, and synthetic biology.

Key Highlights

  • Natural resource use has tripled over the last 50 years and continues to grow at an average of about 2.3% every year. Should the pace of consumption and production continue, resource use will reach 160 billion tonnes by 2060, up 60% from 2020, according to the UN Environment Programme. This will have a severe impact on the environment. Governments worldwide are adopting policies to advance the circular economy, which could help reduce the impact. The EU is leading with its Circular Economy Action Plan, which includes targets for recycling, reducing waste, and promoting ecodesign. Many other countries, such as China, Japan, and the US, have adopted policies based on their specific socio-economic landscape, political priorities, and environmental challenges.
  • New business models will be required to transition companies toward the circular economy. For example, companies must develop sustainable business models that consider the entire lifecycle of a product. In addition to reuse and recycling, many are focusing on ecodesign.
  • Proactively adopting circular practices can help businesses stay ahead of the evolving regulatory environment and avoid penalties. Sustainable businesses will likely disrupt linear counterparts by offering greater efficiency, long-term sustainability, and regulatory compliance.

Reasons to Buy

As humankind grapples with the challenges of living sustainably and limiting climate change, the importance of the circular economy is clear. This report will help you understand what the circular economy is, why it is important, and how it could impact your business.

Albert Heijn
AMP Robotics
Coca-Cola Africa
Intesa Sanpaolo
LG Electronics
Marks and Spencer (M&S)
Nevis Security
Ocado Retail
Olea Edge Analytics
Procter & Gamble
Rakuten Super Logistics
Redwood Materials
Siam Cement
Tetra Pak
Waste Connections

Table of Contents

Executive Summary

Thematic Briefing

GlobalData’s Circular Economy Framework

Technologies Enabling the Circular Economy

Geographical Analysis




Further Reading

Thematic Research Methodology

Frequently asked questions

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