Global technology intelligence firm ABI Research recently forecasted that the circular economy will grow rapidly in the next five years. By the end of the decade, the world economy is expected to achieve 10.5% circularity.
The circular economy is a vision for the global economy in which waste is eliminated, resources are reused, and nature is regenerated. By repurposing materials instead of throwing them away, the circular economy can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, waste, and pollution. Lindsey Vest, Smart Cities & Smart Spaces Research Analyst at ABI Research, describes the circular economy in the following terms:
“The circular economy is an often-misunderstood concept that goes much further than waste management and can become a blueprint for cities. It is a movement away from our take-make-waste economy to one which designs out waste, keeps products and materials in use, and regenerates natural systems.”
Governments are supporting the push for a circular economy, including the European Union, which recently established a Circular Economy Action Plan, and China, which targeted circular economy development under its 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025).
In addition, organizations such as the Ellen MacArthur Foundation are undertaking large-scale education efforts targeted at companies, governments and C40 cities, whose members make up 25% of global GDP.
Technology will be key to realizing the circular economy vision. Smart-city innovations such as the sharing economy, smart lighting, and green infrastructure are already supporting the shift. One emerging technology that is expected to play a central role is Digital Twin: a virtual model of a tangible thing such as a building, bridge, or jet engine, which receives performance data about the thing via sensors placed on it. By providing better information, Digital Twins can help inform businesses and governments about how to design-out waste from their workflows. Michael Jansen, founder and CEO of Digital Twin provider Cityzenith, says that Digital Twin,
“…can cut the operating costs of buildings by 35%, boost their productivity by 20%, and cut their carbon emissions by 50-100%” by identifying and managing potential inefficiencies.
Digital Twin technology was recognized as one of five top tech-growth sectors by the World Nano Foundation. MarketsandMarkets predicts the Digital Twin market will grow from $3.1 billion today to $48.2 billion by 2026.