05-07-2019 | EIT Climate-KIC, along with several European stakeholders, is advocating for the alignment of the EU’s circular economy and digital agendas in a discussion paper published today. The paper paves the way for a more extensive final study, scheduled to be published in late autumn 2019.
The document, a Digital Roadmap for a Circular Economy, introduces several key recommendations for EU policymakers for the new five-year political term and examines the role of European policy, economic instruments and digitally enabled-solutions to steer a transition towards a digital circular economy. Digitalisation and circular economy models are already a reality, however, addressing environmental challenges and climate change requires the adoption of a systemic vision: Circular economy and digital agendas have to be managed in a consistent manner in order to maximise synergies between both areas. This is in line with EIT Climate-KIC’s own strategy and working methods.
Encouraging collaboration and innovation
The effort described in the discussion paper encourages the use of existing platforms to improve information sharing across value chains and to use European funds for projects that help to enhance the EU’s competitiveness and sustainability, by encouraging the development of digitally-enabled solutions for a circular economy. EIT Climate-KIC itself aims to further develop collaborations between circular economy communities of practice and along the global value chains of high greenhouse gas emitting materials and products. For example, EIT Climate-KIC’s Deep Demonstrationprojects are intended as inspirational examples of what is possible at the level of whole systems transformation when innovation and investment are collaborative, coordinated and mission-led.
Circular products and processes
Through such initiatives, EIT Climate-KIC and its network of partners aim to use upstream design as a starting point to make products more circular. The discussion paper notes that designing products and materials that are reusable and easily disassembled, upgraded and/or recycled, is central to creating a circular economy. Business models, another topic of the discussion paper, are increasingly shifting from producing goods to delivering services, and digitalisation plays a major role in this development. One such model supported by the EIT Climate-KIC is BE CIRCLE, a web-based platform supporting industrial symbiosis.
The group behind the Digital Roadmap for a Circular Economy advocate for economic incentives for a digital circular economy which would be supported by single market tools and EU policies such as the industrial agenda, and social and consumer policy. This, they argue, would encourage collaboration across European society and economy and empower its citizens to contribute to the transition. They note that a transition to a circular economy will be significantly dependent on the contributions of consumers and citizens: How they live, consume, reuse and recycle products and materials.
Data and digital solutions are already used to educate and influence people, including via several products and services developed through EIT Climate-KIC funding.