Given the large number of fragmented circular economy applications, there is a need to collect and systemise best-practices case studies from firms, cities, societal models, and waste management as well as design and production methods, including those enabled by the adoption of industry 4.0.
A plethora of single and multiple case studies are available in the literature to illustrate the different approaches to CE. As a result, knowledge on this theme appears to be fragmented, which leads to difficulties in comprehensively understanding the application of CE
The main limitation of the current model is that manufacturing and de-and remanufacturing operations are carried out independently and in “silos” without sharing information and economic benefits, moreover several implementation examples of CE are based on internal innovations along with the manufacturing processes and products which would substantiate more sustainable business models affecting only one firm or a small group of them linked by symbiosis.
To clearly identify these aspects is somewhat difficult, however, this would deliver a great potential for policymakers and the funding institutions in addressing key enablers of CE in industry, as well as for strategic business investments targeting the valuable sustainable resources exchanges which can potentially get unlocked in the future. Every industry has opportunities to develop sustainable business models to promote the transition towards CE by addressing missing links or the technologies to transform and/or exchange resources, but investments in the circular economy are quite risky due to the uncertainty generated by technological changes required for de-manufacturing and remanufacturing to produce circular outcomes, including the “end-of-waste legislation”.
With the H2020 research programme, the European Commission financed several projects on the transition towards the Circular Economy in several fields: SCAVENGER aims to assess and enhance the impact of such research projects. It uses the already existing and publicly available data and new data gathered through direct contacts with stakeholders. SCAVENGER considers literature and projects addressing CE and analyses also the project targeted to sustainability, environmental-friendly technologies and business model that could enable the transition to a sustainable CE. The analysis concerns also result that was not considered against the CE transition because the CE concept was not well known at the date of the call implementation but that get meaningful as CE KPIs have been defined. Data gathered by these activities are evaluated against a set of circularity assessment criteria developed during the project SCREEN and implemented through following studies and projects like the Interreg REPLACE and used in the DigiPrime project to feed the Pilot 5 platform. SCAVENGER analyses the projects’ impact on the integration and improvement of the usual concept of “sector” into “cross-sectoral value chains” defined as the transformation of “traditional” value chains into new ones through cross-sectoral collaboration models.
Through this novel approach, combining different sources of information, SCAVENGER will lead to defining the state of the art of the research in the CE and to better matching between the expected impacts asked by EC and the actual impacts produced by the projects. SCAVENGER will integrate the assessment with non-expected impacts that a better communication strategy could make happening, thus optimizing the regional, national and European public investment in R&I and avoiding double funding just using results from a different point of view.