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Circular Wonderings is an exploration of the role of digital, software and technology in the Circular Economy. Exploration is the key word here. I write regularly, reflecting on my current thoughts and research. Expect typos, incomplete thoughts, varied rambling topics and (hopefully) a journey towards clearer understanding and insight. Subscribe here to join my journey.

Virtual Bridges

An industrial park in the small coastal city of Kalundborg in Denmark is one of the most commonly used examples of the Circular Economy. Specifically, it is an example of Industrial Ecology in action [1].

DigitaList have an excellent 2018 article [2] that starts with the Kalundborg example and walks through the benefits (the requirement) of the Circular Economy.

It is an excellent article. Laying out the case in a clear, easy to follow narrative. (I think that it is also not imaginative enough, something I'll explore in future posts.)

The article makes the economic case for Circularity very clear. Indeed that was the entire motivation in the Kalundborg example, and even they are just scratching the surface:

"In other words, the companies in Kalundborg accidentally discovered that sustainability, specifically circularity, is one of the best paths to profitability. But their returns are a drop in the bank account compared to the potential gains to be had from incorporating circular resource usage methods into any company’s business model."

The article also does an excellent job of introducing the role of digital technology.

"Digital technologies ... relieve one of circularity’s main constraints: the need for companies to be physically near one another for circular exchanges to be profitable."

Here they are talking about concepts like Industrial Ecology or the opportunities in one businesses 'waste' becoming another's feed stock.

They then go on to cover everyone's favourite buzzwords - er, I mean - mention how many of our newest technologies create opportunities:

"The Internet of Things (IoT) and blockchain, for example, can be used as virtual intermediaries, compensating for physical distance and enabling companies located far from one another to go circular at scale. Big Data, analytics, and machine learning let companies create faster, more cost-efficient materials exchanges and allow for optimizing internal circular practices."

That is more than a soup of fancy terms. There is a direct line between the future of technology and the opportunities that the Circular Economy offers.

The article concludes with a nice analogy: "These advances are creating the virtual bridges within and between companies that will make circular business models even more viable, effective, and profitable than their linear forbears."

If you are looking for an introduction into the economic necessity for a Circular Economy, and how digital software fits in, then the article is a good start.