Enabling Circular Economy with Software: A Multi-level Approach to Benefits, Requirements and Barriers
Digital and software-based solutions have been identified as key enablers of circular economy, a recently emerged phenomenon that promises more sustainable business through better systemic material efficiency. Opportunities reside on multiple implementation levels. For example, optimizing resource use within processes, engaging in business models enabled by software development, sharing information to optimize resource use on a network level, and creating infrastructures that support systemic tracking and optimization of resource usage.
This conceptual paper contributes to both circular economy and information systems research by identifying the most prolific technologies underlying software-based solutions enabling circular economy. Furthermore, this paper discusses requirements and barriers for successful implementation of identified solutions residing on each of the application, network, and infrastructure levels, providing a framework for researchers analyzing digital solutions and software business in the context of circular economy, and for practitioners seeking to leverage the potential of digital technologies for their customers.
KeywordsCircular economy Software-intensive business Digitalization Micro-meso-macro perspective
This research was conducted within the projects CICAT2025, Circular Economy Catalysts: From Innovation to Business Ecosystems funded by the Academy of Finland, Strategic Research Council (decision no 320194, 26.11.2018, updated 10.01.2019) and 6Aika: CircVol funded by the European Regional Development Fund (decision no EURA 2014/6291/09 02 01 01/2018/UML).
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