Data as a lever to accelerate the circular economy

Despite awareness of planetary limits, as evidenced in particular by France’s Agec law and the European Union’s Green Pact, progress towards sustainable models remains fragile. The latest report on the global cyclicality index from the NGO Circle Economy indicates, for example, that the global economy was cyclical at 9.1% in 2018, compared to 7.2% in 2023. The impact of crises on health, geopolitics or logistics, which sometimes hinder movement towards transition. However, many signals are green for rescaling in resource optimization, waste reduction, loss control…

“There are more companies that see it as an effective driver of growth and consumers who want to be responsible citizens, knowing that this dynamic is combined with technological progress, which is a lever of acceleration,” summarizes Rafael Masvigner, president and co-founder of Circul’R. , a consulting company specializing in the circular economy. And the manager mentioned a study by the World Economic Forum, which says that “technologies such as blockchain and the Internet of Things can make it possible to reduce the loss of raw materials by 20% by 2030.”

Monitoring and measures of influence

Despite the complexity of the problems of the circular economy, from information sharing to monitoring and measuring the impact of deployed actions, technologies offer solutions. “The first of these is to provide all streams with verified, useful and unique information, in other words, a single truth,” emphasizes Henri Rufin, data and analytics manager at Radiall. This French connector manufacturer (ETI with 3,000 employees and a turnover of 400 million euros) has decided to be “data-centric”, i.e. data-driven, thanks in part to Qlik’s real-time data integration and analysis solutions. editor.

This approach is found in all areas. Like Schneider Electric, which has reduced the energy consumption of its equipment by 40% thanks to AI. Startup Fairly Made is offering fashion brands the ability to track raw materials as they move through their supply chain. Another example is in the fight against food waste: in the United Arab Emirates, Imen Nouira and Ramzi Hammami, professor-researchers at the Rennes Business School, are experimenting with the use of sensors in the packaging of perishable foods (seafood, fruits, vegetables). …).

Green supply chain

“Technology allows you to determine the level of freshness of products and help in making decisions about their final destination: traditional distribution channels, short circuits, food banks …,” explains Ramzi Hammami, research director. G3D center in the green and digital supply chain of Rennes SB. And add that these are responses “in real time, on volumes so high that people couldn’t do those checks.”

If data is meant to be exchanged between professionals, for example, to simplify models in which one’s waste becomes another’s resource, “it also needs to be available to consumers,” says Yann Levy, director of education with a master’s degree in marketing at Pôle Paris Alternance. (PPA), a school in the Grandes écoles Spécialisés (GES) network, which is about to start a specialization in the circular economy. And Yann Levy to whet customers’ appetite for more transparency.

What to say to Xavier Barras, Director of Operations at GS1 France, a standardization organization for product identification (barcode, QR code, Datamatrix…) and their data, that the goal is trust. “For everyone to be part of the circular economy, there needs to be a common language,” he says. Still on the harmonization front, Circul’R is at the forefront of a coalition bringing together organizations such as Citeo, Veolia, L’Oréal and Pernod Ricard to create standards for measuring circularity.

sustainable digital

The potential of data can lead to the transformation of some economic models. “For example, encouraging companies to produce only when they are sure of sales,” notes Jan Levy, who advocates “a circular economy positioned as the first link, in anticipation, not just in response.” This is with the help of sustainable digital. “Technology is a lever to accelerate the circular economy only if the strategy combines digital sobriety and cost-effective innovation,” concludes Rafael Masvinier.

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