Circular Economy: An Antidote for the ‘Plastic Soup’, cont.

Author: Aadya Kanodia

In my previous post I talked about the circular economy and plastic waste. Since we have now uncovered some truths, let’s take a look at what opportunities the circular economy brings as well as solutions to increase its efficiency. The circular economy creates a great landscape for the ‘Internet of Things’. Back in 2015/6, researchers predicted that the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT), in other words the networked connections between people, data, and objects known as intelligent assets, has the potential to create an economic opportunity of $14.4tn globally by 2025. To paint a picture: this translates to an increase in global corporate profits by approximately 21%. In 2020, it has been calculated that this sector contributes to 0.99% of economic growth annually (which is about $849bn of global GDP). Between 2014-2018 the revenue pool for IoT connectivity platforms across the world alone has seen a compounded annual growth rate of 56%, and now has an estimated growth rate of 48% to 2023.

These ‘intelligent assets’ can change the way value is created by furthering the possibilities of data-driven decision-making. With Covid-19 and social distancing, advances in autonomous A.I. has become more important for productivity.

IoT fits into the circular economy when we start to talk about resource management issues. Mass global urbanisation and consumerism require more efficient and informed decision-making to maximise resource productivity.

Energy providers are turning to IoT-enabled energy storage systems to increase renewable energy stability. Surplus renewable energy generated is stored to be released when there is excess demand. This increases the flexibility of renewable energy and thus allows it to be more reliable. Additionally, using a cloud-based monitoring platform, IoT enables energy providers to forecast energy consumption and generation.

For example, Enevo, a tech start-up, increases transparency in the operations of waste management firms. This has increased sustainability though smart waste technology. It strategically analyses data from the dumpster to the transportation route to waste diversion and recycling programmes.

Currently, there is an ecosystem of pressure where environmentally conscious demands from consumers are resulting in big commitments by company leadership and thus creating tension. To maximise the benefits of the circular economy there need to be cooperation between governments and businesses as well as consumers. A strong policy framework is needed along with a scientific drive to push forward innovation.

That’s my two cents. What are your thoughts on this topic? As always, please get in touch with me if any of the aspects have intrigued you or if you have something to share further! I would love to hear new ideas and insights on how technology is supporting the circular economy.

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