The manufacturing company does not consider any projects to become circular, it is stuck into the traditional linear concept of make-take-dispose. It takes care legal responsibilities related to recycling and other environmental obligations, but considers them as additional costs rather than new opportunities.
The top management has pushed the experimentation of pilot adoption of some strategies aiming to resource sufficiency (sustainability/circularity) either internally or by exchanging it with external industrial actors. In order to build awareness and engagement some organisational modifications have been put in place within company boundaries fostered by managerial and tactical levels of the company.
The “R-cycles” of industrial materials has become a standard practice adopted by the company in order to systematically identify possibilities to reuse, refurbish and remanufacture materials and promoting on the shop-floor technologies enabling the disassembly and remanufacturing. Moreover, any type of resources is internally studied in order to think about its possible reintroduction in a new cycle. At this level, not only the managerial and tactical level is involved but also the more operative one.
External partnerships have been established to enable life-cycle assessment (LCA) and boosting new value circles. Value chain level use of digital technologies for tracking, tracing and mapping of resources (data exchange platform). Ecodesign approaches targeting to new product design and deployment of new services). The intentional transition (CE roadmap considering product, processes, organization and technologies investments areas) is led by managerial and tactical levels.
Adoption of CE strategies with adequate countermeasures on products, processes, organization and technologies, i.e. sustainability/circularity KPIs are implemented to follow social, environmental and economic impacts at network level. Managerial, Tactical and Operative levels of the entire company are aligned towards this direction with systematic follow-up of transition taking years. Broad understanding of value flows (such as synergies among forward and reverse logistics, local value chains, zero-waste manufacturing) and co-creation of new value circles within manufacturing networks (like flexible remanufacturing networks, upgrading of products) is one of the key managerial practices.
In the Circular Economy paradigm, the core products traditionally developed and produced by companies need to be innovated and improved to be re-designed to facilitate their circular end-of-life management and to embed CE principles it their features and functionalities. For instance, there is the need to avoid the presence of toxic substances, to reduce the energy consumption during the product production and consumption, to foster the usage of energy from renewable sources etc.
To embrace the Circular Economy paradigm, several internal processes require to be innovated and improved to go for cleaner production processes and address the resource efficiency requirements. Therefore, it is requested to evaluate how to introduce in the traditional processes, new solutions enabling to respect a lower amount of CO2 emissions during the product production and delivery, to reduce the energy and material consumption during the production by limiting the waste generated, and last, in case would be generated internal waste, to introduce adequate processes to manage it in a sustainable way.
The internal innovation of product and processes can be stimulated and supported by the introduction of platforms. These platforms enable to foster an internal alignment and to drive towards the establishment of structured relationships with external stakeholders. Therefore, platforms might be adopted to exchange immaterial and material resources, for instance respectively to learn from best practices adopted by others and to exchange by-products, waste or other material resources.
As for every transition, new competencies are required to really gain the benefits that would be potentially generated from the adoption of Circular Economy. Indeed, especially for an internal alignment, the transformation towards CE requires the involvement of all the people employed at the different levels and in different departments which need to be trained to improve their expertise and to acquire new skills. New professional roles might be generated and already existing roles might enlarge the spectrum of their competencies.
The embracement of Circular Economy requires an effort from companies to establish external relationships tailored on the new needs referred to circularity. Therefore, to be successful, the transition requires the involvement of several external stakeholders among which suppliers and customers. These relationships are reinforced in case partnerships are established.
Undertaking the transition needs to ensure to take under control the internal and external transformation by monitoring the related performances. Therefore, the transition requires to be monitored to evaluate potential rooms for improvements and propose continuous update by relying on the assessment of Circular Economy performances.