Circular Business Models

By taking into account how materials & products move around the economy or how an organisation creates and delivers value to a wide range of stakeholders while eliminating waste and environmental damage, Circular Business Models can offer new commercial opportunities.

Creating revenue and opportunities

Circular business models define how an organisation creates and delivers value to a wide range of stakeholders while eliminating waste and environmental damage as its materials and products move around the Economy, This can offer new commercial opportunities to generate incremental revenue, transform relationships with existing customers, and attract new customers, at the same time as protecting supply chains against rising costs of prime materials and mitigating resource shortages. Intrinsically linked to Circular Design, examples include dis-assembly, repair remanufacturing refurbishing and remodelling.

Promoting Circular Benefits


Promoting Circular Benefits

Wool is currently a low cost, raw material, and its value was further impacted during the Covid-19 pandemic. It is a by-product of the livestock industry, which is a significant employer in the UK and contributes £291.4m to the economy. Most sheep breeds have to be sheared to ensure animal welfare standards are met, however, the value of wool is very low. In 2020, UK farmers were receiving between 15-30p per fleece, yet paying more than £1 to have each sheep sheared. By replacing other environmentally damaging materials with wool, currently a farming waste stream, the industry could generate additional revenue and accelerate net zero goals.

Click here to read the Wool Innovation Action Plan.

Novel uses for wool include its use in packaging (WoolCool), insulation/building materials (Therma fleece, Woolly Shepherd, Havelock wool), compost (Dalefoot Compost). Other innovative uses could look to wool to solve challenges such as clearing up oil spills, flood defences and reinforcing land.

Listen to what the experts say regarding Wool and its potential as a circular product.


Extending lifetimes to lock in the value

Today, around 7 million tonnes of aluminium is lost globally during the recycling process. This could rise to 17 million tonnes per annum by 2050 if there is no change in current practices. Recycling is a valuable process for secondary materials, however, it does require additional resource for collection systems, processing technology and infrastructure investment. If secondary aluminium is not retained in the economy, it is replaced by primary metal with greenhouse gas emissions on average twenty-five times higher than recycled aluminium.

Click here to read the Innovation Action Plan for Aluminium in a Circular Economy.

The challenge is current recycling practice results in material quality being degraded. Whilst, there is potential to optimise sorting and elimination of waste, there is also an opportunity to recover assets earlier in the material flow for re-use in current alloy state in either a new application, to refurbish for resale to a new market.

The concept of sharing assets is not new, but it is experiencing a resurgence with businesses moving products from ownership to service economy, something that many OEMs undertake to ensure they retain the material assets. One of the key benefits of aluminium is its durability and by doubling the lifetime of current state alloys savings could be made in costs associated with primary feedstocks, but also in waste including energy, materials and resources.

Extending lifetimes to lock in the value
Defining the opportunity for circular business models


Defining the opportunity for circular business models

This challenge aims to define the opportunity for circular business models taking into account environmental and economic factors, and will enable the UK to produce chemicals utilising captured industrial waste gases within regional clusters and dispersed sites.

Click here to read the Action Plan for Transforming Industrial Waste Gases (CO/CO2) to Chemicals.

A critical element of this innovation is data from techno-economic analysis (TEA) and Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) that will provide assurance to business, government and society that this new pathway is built upon robust methodology and test cases.

Please do make contact if you have an existing evidence base, case studies, or if you want to actively participate with us on this area of work.

Emma McKenna

Our Expert

Emma McKenna

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