The Digital Circular Economy

Can the digital transformation pave the way for resource-efficient materials cycles?

  • Publications 23.08.2017

Germany's waste management system is one of the world's most advanced - its primary objective is to dispose of waste in a way that is safe for both people and the environ- ment. However, only about 14 per cent of the raw materials used in industry are derived from recycling processes; the remainder are still sourced from primary materials. The circular economy is not yet being implemented on a large enough scale. Recyclates or recycled materials, i.e. secondary raw materials recovered from waste, are being fed back into production and usage processes at volumes that are far below what is possible. If this system were to be improved, loss of value, dependence on volatile commodity markets, lower resource productivity, and externalities in the form

of environmental pollution could be avoided. A drive towards digitalisation in industry and the waste management sector could make this happen. A study by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) indicates that no other lead market in the environmental sector stands to benefit from digitalisation more than the circular economy - and that, at the same time, no sector has ever been so poorly positioned.

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