Digital Transformation of the Circular Economy

White Paper on the digital circular economy for industrial transformation published

Circular Economy
  • News 04.11.2020

Within the research network ECERA (European Circulcar Economy Research Alliance) the white paper entitled "Digital circular economy ­– a cornerstone of a sustainable European industry transformation" was published. The paper by Dr. Holger Berg and Dr. Stephan Ramesohl (both Co-Head of the Digital Transformation Research Unit in die Circular Economy Division at the Wuppertal Institute) and Nicole Stein, Researcher in the same Research Unit, as well as other external authors follows these hypotheses: Due to its high demand for information at all levels, the circular economy must be digital in itself. Key components for this will be the integration of data, data science, including artificial intelligence, and secure data management. A number of technological approaches must be developed for this purpose. These include circular digital twins and product passports, that allow the path of a material or product to be tracked throughout its life cycle. The paper also calls for ensuring that the digital economy also becomes sustainable.

"It is two sides of the same coin, really. We need digital technologies to implement circular economy in all its facets on a large scale and we need approaches from the circular economy to make digitalisation sustainable," says Dr. Holger Berg, lead author and Co-Head of the Digital Transformation Research Unit in the Circular Economy Division at the Wuppertal Institute. Against this background, the authors recommend the following six recommendations for research, innovation and investment:

  • the establishment of a secure data space both in terms of storage and access,
  • the development of data and product standards to enable extensive exchange and interoperability
  • the development of analysis systems to enable learning, transfer and transactions
  • Development and implementation of strategies for the improved recycling of digital technologies,
  • utilisation of the data and knowledge gained, in order to be able to act effectively on the part of politics to introduce a resource-efficient circular economy.

Implementing these recommendations requires linking the EU's Digital Agenda with the Circular Economy Action Plan and puts us on the road to implementing the digital recycling industry.
The white paper is published on the G-STIC website, the Global Sustainable Technology and Innovation Community, and is available under the link below.