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.

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.


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.

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.

Elle Bennett Runton

Our Expert

Elle Bennett Runton

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Related Opportunities

Innovate UK Smart grants: January 2023

Opens: 19/01/2023 Closes: 14/06/2023

UK registered organisations can apply for a share of up to £25 million for game-changing and commercially viable R&D innovations that can significantly impact the UK economy. The dates for this round of Smart have been extended to maximise funding opportunities for applicants.

More Information

ISCF SSPP Collecting flexible plastic packaging waste at home

Opens: 27/02/2023 Closes: 12/04/2023

UK registered organisations can apply for a share of up to £250,000 to develop innovative ideas that help with the collection of flexible packaging waste from households.

More Information

Faraday Battery Challenge Investment Readiness Programme 2023

Opens: 21/03/2023 Closes: 21/04/2023

Apply now to be part of the Faraday Battery Challenge Investment Readiness Programme for 2023. Innovate UK KTN will select up to 15 SMEs to join the programme to accelerate their investment journey.

More Information

Join the Circular Economy Innovation Network

If you would like to take part in the discussion and be kept updated of our activities, join our Community.

Related Events and Recordings


Transforming industrial waste gases (CO/CO2) to chemicals

10.00 - 12.15 | Online

Watch now

Circular Economy Innovation Network Launch Event

11.00 - 12.30 | Online

Watch Now
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