Can digital help us to reduce waste and gain greater efficient use of the materials that we have on hand and enable progress toward a circular economy?
It has been said that a key barrier to increased reuse, refurbishment, and recycling of goods and materials is a lack of information. In other words, if you don’t have a full understanding of the provenance and condition of an item, you won’t be able to accurately estimate the degree to which that item or its components might be reusable, or the effort and cost to refurbish or recycle it compared to the value of the refurbished or recycled item. Digital brings us new capabilities to sense, analyze and trace the composition, quality and provenance of an item, driving higher confidence and increased propensity toward reuse, resulting in cost savings and efficiency. This has design implications as well, as increased propensity toward reuse will increase the value of products designed for reuse. This will make “design for reuse” as a competitive differentiator. In other words, digital will be a critical enabler of improved Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) performance, and companies should begin to incorporate circular economy objectives into their digital strategies now.