The circular economy is a generic term to define an economy designed to be able to regenerate itself. In a circular economy, the flows of materials are of two types: biological ones, capable of being reintegrated into the biosphere, and technical ones, destined to be re-valued without entering the biosphere. In practice, it is a zero-waste economy, where any product is consumed and disposed of without leaving a trace.
Renewable energies are very important as the modularity and versatility of the objects, which can and must be used in various contexts in order to last as long as possible.
The circular economy presupposes a systemic way of thinking, which does not end in the design of products intended for a single purpose. It is an economy that not only protects the environment and saves on production and management costs, but also produces profits.
The circular economy involves the development of a real economy to be opposed to the linear one that goes from the production of a product to its becoming waste.
Cradle to cradle. This theory eliminates the concept of waste, because “waste is nourishment”; it is based exclusively on renewable energy and respects man and the environment, going to preserve the health of ecosystems and the impact.
- Performance economy. Walter Stahel added to the C2C theory the “closed-loop” approach of the production process which includes four main objectives: to extend the life cycle of products, to create durable goods, to carry out product renewal activities and to avoid waste.
- Biomimicry (imitation of life), ie the study of the best ideas of nature and the imitation of designs and processes to solve the problems of human beings. Three the most important principles: study and emulate nature; use an ecological standard to judge the sustainability of our innovations; evaluate nature not to understand what to get out of it but what we can learn from it.
- Industrial ecology. Industrial ecology, also considered the science of sustainability, is the study of matter and energy flows through industrial systems.
- Natural capitalism, which refers to the whole range of natural assets, including earth, air, water and all living things. It is based on four pillars: to radically increase the productivity of natural resources; acquire models and production materials inspired by biology; a business model aimed at guaranteeing a sequence of services; reinvest in natural capital.
- Blue economy. Or “use the resources available in a cascade system, where the refusal of a product becomes the input to produce a new waterfall”.
- Regenerative design, which has become the frame of the circular economy.
The world, without defined boundaries, of clean technology (cleantech), includes all the technologies that serve to ‘make it clean’, that is to limit (or even where possible to eliminate) the environmental impact of a given production process.
Today, the use of clean technologies includes practices such as recycling of waste, the use of renewable energy sources (wind, solar, etc.), the rationalization of transport and lighting sources, the reduction of packaging volumes and, in broader sense, all environmental choices that aim to drastically reduce the use of natural resources, and cut or eliminate emissions and waste.
Circular Economy and sustainability in a few years have become absolute protagonists of the Tech industry both in B2C and B2B. Below are some examples of the most interesting projects in this regard:
- Agricolus: anItalian platform that operates in the precision farming area, offering various cloud applications to farmers and agronomists, thanks to which these professionals will be able to follow the production process at 360 ° and make data-driven decisions, reducing costs, improving and ensuring higher quality of the agricultural product, with a view to sustainability.
- Junker: Mobile application for smartphones that helps citizens to correctly and quickly sort household waste, helping to reduce the fraction of unsorted waste. It has been included in the European Parliament’s circular economy white paper.
- FruitsApp: worldwide B2B marketplace for the purchase and sale of fruit and vegetables. The platform offers several tools to help the parties to conclude deals: chats, bargaining systems, profiling. It has been accelerated by the Startupbootcamp Foodtech Accelerator
- Timealy: this application allows the daily unsold of fresh food to be offered at a paltry price to residents and commuters. The platform is currently being launched in London.
Technology also has a strong potential for the development of the circular economy between companies in B2B. An example is the Liam robot, which with its 29 arms can disassemble a discarded iPhone in 11 seconds, recovering a large part of the reusable materials of which it is composed, thus avoiding huge waste of value.
But also the Loop Rocks platform created by the construction company NCC, through which secondary construction materials are made available at low cost between construction sites, thus reducing disposal costs, waste and costs for the purchasing companies.