CIRC4Life demonstrators and showcases

25 June 2021

CIRC4Life is a demonstration project, which is developing three circular economy business models (CEBMs) in 4 sectors (industrial and domestic LED lighting, tablets, vegetables , meat supply chain), implemented by 5 European companies.  The business models aim to engage consumers in the transition towards a circular economy using 3 approaches: Co-Creation of products and services with end-users, Sustainable Consumption and Collaborative Recycling/Reuse.

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As project leaders for the demonstrators, RISE (Research Institutes of Sweden) have been their supporting research partner from the beginning of the CEBM implementation until the final showcase events for validation and dissemination. Together with the demo owners we discussed the different activities to be conducted and decided together how to validate the demonstrator with regard to integration of the CEBMs. Furthermore, as the stakeholders must represent different types of end users in order to validate CEBM implementation, we involved stakeholders from various sectors (private consumers, governmental bodies, businesses and academia).

RISE also developed  Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to be used for validating the demonstrators in a comparable way during the demo activities and the related showcases. 

CIRC4Life’s four demonstrators and the industry.  

Although the demos have been implementing the developed CEMBs, the activities for each demo and each CEBM have often been varied, as, through necessity, they had to be adapted to different local contexts and to the specific industry sector. The Demonstrators have been demonstrated physically in different geographical areas (UK, Spain), as well as during online events (due to the pandemic). This included a variety of activities, such as demonstrating eco-labels on products and engaging customers for feedback, demonstrating eco-shopping in physical stores and in online webshops, return systems of products for reuse and recycling and related incentive schemes, co-creating new products and modular products, and development of leasing models for LED lightings instead of sales of products. The different activities were initially part of Living Lab activities, but were finally demonstrated to a variety of stakeholders

 

Within CIRC4Life two companies are responsible for demonstrating the LED lighting sector: ONA (Spain) for the domestic sector, Kosnic (UK) for  the industrial sector. ONA have e.g. co-created new lamps with recycled materials and offer a return system, whilst Kosnic e.g. have developed modular industrial lighting and a new leasing service for LED lighting.

 

In Spain, Indumetal and Recyclia demonstrated the CEBM based on the recycling and reuse of electronic tablets through the use of an intelligent bin and an incentive scheme for returning unused WEEE. The demonstration with the intelligent bins included schools, to increase the collection of electronic devices for reuse or recycling and to raise awareness amongst students on the circular economy and the potential role they can play in it.  Another Spanish company, Alia, e.g. implemented the CEBMs in the meat supply chain by co-creating new products with end-users and utilised eco-shopping and an eco-label to raise awareness about sustainable products. And finally, Scilly Organics, a micro farm in the United Kingdom, implemented the CEBMs in vegetable food production e.g. by co-creating products and increasing awareness of sustainable products and production, through, e.g., the use of an eco-label.

Showcases

In order to validate and disseminate the results of the demonstrations, some industry partners conducted a showcase event. Originally these events were planned as larger full day events with presentations, facility tour, lunch and mingle to meet the different stakeholder groups. Due to the pandemic, most of the events went digital or turned into a combination of online and physical happenings. The digital events used a combination of video materials developed for the demonstrators, presentations of specific parts of the activities and surveys for stakeholder feedback.

Faced with this particular situation, large scale demonstrations proved difficult. However, what was obvious was the continued interest in sustainability actions and engagement shown by the demonstration companies and the interest of the stakeholders involved on their journey to becoming a more sustainable company. All partners gained insight into what it takes to be more sustainable as a company and learnt about circular economy business model development and its implementation.

Those who attended the events were in general very positive and agreed that these implementations could be the start of a more circular economy in Europe, making many businesses more circular and resource efficient. One important take-away from the demonstrations is that awareness campaigns are paramount to reaching a wider audience and increasing knowledge of sustainability and of reuse and recycling.  Also, the use of life cycle assessment results for product and service development and for communication with the end users has proven to be an important and useful learning for the involved demonstrators. However, communication with end users about sustainability and the difficulties of matching the content and appearance to user requirements has also surfaced as a repeated topic of discussion.

Implementing the CEBMs in the different demonstrations has required many different activities, which had to be adjusted and adapted to the local industry context and the key stakeholders involved in the specific industry setting. Innovation, creativity and adaptivity are some of the factors that need to be considered in the transition towards a more sustainable and circular society.