Circular Economy and Industry 4.0: The New Paradigm

Circular Economy

Towards the environmental sustainability

The relationship between Industry 4.0 and the circular economy becomes more and more visible when defining new pathways that will help to achieve environmental sustainability targets.

The new Industry 4.0

Currently, the world is facing the fourth industrial revolution or Industry 4.0. Unlike past revolutions, this one is based on two primary factors: automation and data.

Unlike previous industrial models, which were characterized by producing waste in a linear way, Industry 4.0 seeks to minimize or eliminate waste. Indeed, this is what links Industry 4.0 with the principles of a circular economy.

Circular Economy

What exactly means Circular Economy?

The circular economy refers to a different approach for designing the production systems. In other terms, it involves moving from a linear process that involves the use of raw materials and the generation of waste, to a model that regenerates itself, transforming what is commonly considered a waste into a resource. This transition is first of all cultural. 

Sustainable Manufacturing: The Basis of the Circular Economy

With the development of the Industry 4.0 concept, there was also a consensus toward addressing sustainability in manufacturing.

Sustainable manufacturing can be defined as the creation of products using such processes that minimize negative environmental impacts, save energy without wasting natural resources, are safe for employees, communities, and consumers, and are affordable. 

The foundational and innovative aspects of sustainable production are the 6Rs: reduce, reuse, recycle, recover, redesign and remanufacture.

Waste and circular economy
Towards a new paradigm

How to connect Circular Economy and Industry 4.0

Industry 4.0 promotes the transition to a more circular economy. Thanks to the new technologies, it is possible to monitor the use of resources and keep the production of waste under control. This improves the operational performance of a sustainable supply chain.

Furthermore, it involves a complete reconfiguration of production processes in order to reduce their environmental impact, the development of new eco-sustainable products and the redefinition of the business model. 

From waste to resource

The industrial system has yet to develop the capacity to assimilate and reuse waste at the end of the production and consumption cycle. In other words, it is a economic development model in which one industry’s waste becomes the raw material for another.

The circular economy is a system that is developed using the business models, technologies and skills of Industry 4.0. That’s why Industry 4.0 and the circular economy are two sides of the same coin. 


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