The circular economy is a means to improve economic performance of companies by taking maximum advantage of resources and reducing waste generation to a minimum. According to the Ellen Macarthur Foundation, the circular economy in Europe can generate double the profits created by the current model. Furthermore, it would mean reducing raw material consumption by 32% and emissions by 50%.
To move towards this more sustainable economy over time the objective is to break with the linear economic model based on “extract, produce, consume and throw away” imposed by the industrial revolution over the past two centuries. This new circular economy model takes into account that natural resources are finite and must be reused as often as possible.
The circular economy in Catalonia
Catalonia is already working on promoting environmental sustainability, both in economic and social terms. Catalan companies offer circular economy solutions in waste materials, water and renewable energy sectors. There are 217 research groups and technology centres innovating and performing research aimed at offering environmental solutions to businesses.
Those sectors with greatest business potential in the circular economy in Catalonia are:
- Food & Drink
Innovations such as car sharing, electric vehicles and self-driving vehicles, or the use of new materials are all fields where the circular economy is being applied and that can reduce the cost of industrial processes by up to 50%.
New business models, innovation
Products created by the circular economy are designed to have a new lease of life thanks to repairing or remanufacturing processes. They can be transformed into secondary raw materials which are created from waste and can be used as cheaper and more efficient resources for other productive processes. Furthermore, to produce following a circular philosophy also means working towards achieving more efficient energy processes.
Another way to look at the circular economy is through changes in ownership models: consumers go from being owners to being users, so consumers rent or share products, such as a washing machine, a mobile phone or a car and companies provides related services. It is not about “doing more with less”, but “doing more with what we already have”, eliminating lost opportunities and solving the problem of low usage. We are talking about new business models, new activities, new ways of generating income. In the end, what we are talking about is innovation.
The benefits of the circular economy for your business
The circular economy is not only more respectful towards the environment, it is also a driver for innovation and represents an economic opportunity for companies:
- Increase in resource productivity
- Savings in costs
- Competitive difference
- Access to new markets
- Adopting innovation practices
The process of rethinking the life cycle of products from a circular perspective opens up a whole range of new business models economically profitable for companies. To facilitate the return on these opportunities it is essential to see innovation in materials and products, as well as in processes and organizations. In fact, this increased awareness towards environmental issues and greater understanding concerning the scarcity of resources means that consumers are increasingly more aware of the differential value of sustainable companies and products.
Discover all the initiatives we offer to promote the circular economy in your company
- Use the Innovation Coupons, a direct financial rebate when you subcontract advanced technological services with our certified suppliers that can help you incorporate the circular economy into your products or processes.
- Stand out from your competitors by incorporating the best technology available in Catalonia via the TECNIO developers and facilitators
- Collaborate with Catalan startups with disruptive technologies and innovative business models to accelerate your own innovation processes. Find them in the Barcelona & Catalonia Startup Hub directory.
- Take advantage of tax rebates with incentives for R&D+i projects.
- Improve your international scope and find the ideal partners to present your projects on a European level via the Horizon 2020 assistance service.
- On the Enterprise Europe Network you can find possible partners to develop collaborative R&D+I projects.
- Develop your circular economy solutions individually or in collaboration with other local and international companies, via the Industrial Research and Experimental Development Nuclis, which promote R&D projects.
- Participate in the new RIS3CAT Communities , the European funding for backing major R&D and innovation projects with other companies and entities within your field.
- Attend the major congresses which are held in Barcelona, such as the Smart City Expo World Congress.