Challenges of circular economy

The circular economy is based on various principles, such as maintaining production and materials and regulating natural systems. With the progress of industry and access to products from all over the world, more and more waste is generated, which contributes to environmental pollution.

The system of a linear economy therefore no longer works and needs to be rethought. The circular economy illuminates the entire cycle of resource management, product manufacturing and the subsequent use of these goods.

Benefits vs challenges

SMEs occupy a central position in the circular economy. With a wide variety of decision-making approaches and the use of secondary raw materials, effective production design and new business models brings companies into a new role of producer responsibility. The following challenges may arise in this context:

  • Transition to new business models requires drastic rethinking
  • High coordination effort to integrate actors across all stages of the value chain
  • Complexity of products, materials and its content
  • Processing technologies for end-of-life products are still in maturing phase
  • Lack of specific legislation, i.e. focus on waste and environmental legislation without any link between product and economic legislation
  • Limited awareness, interest and knowledge
  • Consumer behaviour and the product as a status symbol

A major obstacle is the organisation of cooperation across different stages of the value chain. This means that the perspective has to be planned and implemented away from the end product and towards closed-loop management. Considering this, increased coordination with all partners and, if necessary, the end consumer is necessary.

Sortingmachine-LaNDER³ project HSZG

In order to increase the potential of sustainable growth as well as the independence from other countries with regard to scarce resources, the general conditions and requirements of the industry should be taken into account.

This means to support a fair competition between primary and secondary raw materials as well as the adaptation of political instruments and the transfer of knowledge from companies in the recycling industry. Knowledge transfer as one of the main tasks of the AMiCE Alliance promotes the exchange between the target groups and is supported by the expert knowledge of the project consortium. 1

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Marlen Krause
University of Applied Sciences Zittau/Görlitz
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Show bibliography for this article
1 Anguera, M. G., TACTICAL PATHS IN ADOPTING of ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING; Bax&Company, H. (2018). DT1.1.2-Foresight Study; IML, F. (2018). Circular Economy Logistics: Für eine Kreislaufwirtschaft 4.0. Dortmund; Leitat Technologie Center. (2016). Additive Manufacturing- Benefits of the implementation of Additive Manufacturing; University, L. (2017). Circular economy in construction: current awareness, challenges and enablers; www.freepik.com
Published on the 28.05.2020