For a functioning circular-flow economy, everyone must work together: Companies, politics, R&D and the end user. Companies must restructure product design, manufacturing processes, raw material procurement and last but not least the needs of their customers in the overall context of meaningful recycling strategy. The handling of secondary materials also requires rethinking. In addition to the economy and ecology, companies must also consider the social impacts, especially in international value chains. Of course, the digitalization of the economy offers great opportunities and generates new business models. But it also requires long-term investment and raises of data security and sovereignty.
The task of politicans is to create the right framework conditions and lay the foundation for a technical infrastructure. The gaps in legislation regarding cyber security must be closed as quickly as possible at EU level, and open data exchange without endangering trade secrets or personal data must be guaranteed. Finally, quality criteria for secondary raw materials must be defined by European or international standardization and remanufacturing must be strengthened.
Research must promote cooperation and application in projects in order to enhance the value add chain.
Sustainability offers companies great opportunities - if they do their homework and answer important questions. For example, how to work together along the supply chain and which interfaces are needed. Which requirements must future specialists meet and how can this be achieved in training and further education?
The ownership of, and rights to, process data and material flow data must be clarified. Furthermore, solutions for integrating new sensors into existing products and plants and ways for tracking recyclables in the value add chain must be found and the quality criteria applicable to secondary raw materials different applications areas must be determined. SMEs generally have to check which framework conditions they need for the development of a closed loop economy concept and how they can use AI in their processes.
Once all these questions have been considered and satisfactorily answered, nothing can stop the process of the circular-flow economy.