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A Systems Perspective on the Industry 4.0 Technologies as Enablers of Circular Economy Transitions

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A Systemic Transition to Circular Economy

Part of the book series: Greening of Industry Networks Studies ((GINS,volume 12))

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A growing number of emerging Industry 4.0 technologies are claimed to be one of the most important enablers of the sought-after transition to the Circular Economy (CE). The technological aspects are of crucial importance for the establishment of CE as a solid paradigm. On the one hand, Industry 4.0 technologies can improve existing operations – thus enabling multiple CE strategies – while the development of new technologies and increased information sharing act as drivers for CE within manufacturing companies. On the other hand, the lack of adequate information and knowledge, coupled with limited technology adoption and technical skills, form strong barriers to the wider adoption of CE. In addition, Industry 4.0 technologies can profoundly influence the adoption of CE at different levels and forms, both in terms of product design and process management. This transition involves fundamental changes in various processes across the value chain, from product design and innovation to end-of-life mechanisms and business model innovation. Furthermore, the development of a CE requires both technological and sustainability perspectives to be fully realized, underpinned by a systems interpretation that captures the complexity and emergence of such phenomena. However, despite the increased availability and understanding of Industry 4.0 technologies and the ever-growing consolidation of the theoretical and empirical foundations of CE, there is still a lack of understanding of how these technologies can adequately support the transition to a CE. Based on a systems account of technological and sustainability transitions, this chapter reviews key CE strategies and Industry 4.0 technologies to provide a systemic framework and a selected set of cases that illustrate how Industry 4.0 technologies can be one of the key drivers of circularity across industries, sectors, and geographies.

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Correspondence to Vinicius Picanço Rodrigues .

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Picanço Rodrigues, V., Zancul, E. (2024). A Systems Perspective on the Industry 4.0 Technologies as Enablers of Circular Economy Transitions. In: Ometto, A.R., Sarkis, J., Evans, S. (eds) A Systemic Transition to Circular Economy. Greening of Industry Networks Studies, vol 12. Springer, Cham.

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