Smart Innovators: Circular Economy Digital Solutions

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Executive Summary

The circular economy promotes resource efficiency, the reuse and repurposing of parts, waste reduction and smarter product design, all of which align with broader ESG and sustainability goals. The integration of circularity into business models, particularly in consumer-facing industries, has proliferated the need for solutions that can help deliver less linear operations. This report provides a benchmark of circular economy digital solutions, with a focus on innovative technologies. The study defines the scope of circular economy digital solutions and assesses the capabilities of 35 software providers for corporate buyers looking to improve product footprints, inform design, trace environmental impacts and enhance post-sale operations, to break the take-make-waste chain. Innovation in the space often provides industry-specific solutions, owing to the unique challenges facing individual sectors.


Table of contents

Digital Solutions Hold The Key To Operationalizing Circular Initiatives 
Regulations, Consumer Preferences And Environmental Constraints Drive The Need For Circular Solutions 
Firms Must Respond To Supply Chain And Product Design Challenges To Close The Loop 
Circular Economy Digital Solutions Are Born Out Of Industry-Specific Demands

Introducing the Circular Economy Digital Solutions Market
Circular Economy Solutions Target Four Areas Of The Product Life Cycle
Longstanding Software Applications Used In Product Life Cycles Form Solid Foundations For Circular Economy Solutions 
Innovation Is Driven By The Need For Transparency, Traceability And Efficiency  

Firms Should Integrate Circular Solutions To Take Product Strategy To The Next Level
Circular Solutions Provide Superior Data Access To Help Firms Re-Orient Business Models


Table of figures

Figure 1. Drivers For Firms Pursing Product Circularity 
Figure 2. National-Level Circular Economy Policy Initiatives
Figure 3. Circular Operations Changing End-Of-Life Product Outcomes 
Figure 4. Categories Of Circular Economy Digital Solutions
Figure 5. Applying Circular Economy Digital Solutions To A Linear Life Cycle
Figure 6. Examples Of Circular Economy Service Providers And Their Capabilities
Figure 7. Circular Economy Digital Solutions Capabilities Assessment 

About the authors

Kim Knickle

Research Director, ESG & Sustainability
Kimberly Knickle is Research Director of the ESG & Sustainability practice at Verdantix. Her research areas encompass ESG regulations and reporting, ESG risk, supply chain sustainability, circular economy, social impact, and sustainable finance. Kim has worked for more than 20 years in the IT industry, providing research and analysis to help companies invest wisely in new technologies. Before joining the analyst industry, she held various roles in IT services, engineering and product safety testing, beginning her career at Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. Kim holds an MBA from Boston University and a BS in Electrical Engineering from Cornell.

Guy Lewis

Industry Analyst
Guy is an Industry Analyst in the Verdantix ESG & Sustainability practice. He currently leads research on circular economy software and services and supports research across several other ESG and sustainability themes. Prior to joining Verdantix, Guy was an energy specialist helping to optimize member experience, through which he gained knowledge of both operations and smart technologies. Guy holds a BA in Geography from the University of Manchester, with a placement year at the University of Queensland.

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