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Vol 4 - L’économie circulaire : innovations avenir

Technology and Innovation

List of Articles

A Transition to which Circular Economy?

Projects of transition to a circular economy are increasing in light of both grassroots initiatives and public sector incentives. In seven original contributions, this special issue of Technologie & Innovation attests to and scrutinizes the diversity of such actions. After a presentation of each contribution, three principal scenarios for the future development of the circular economy are then identified.

The Conditions for the Emergence and Development of Circular Economy Projects

This article is part of a growing trend of research related to the circular economy. Unlike the majority of studies that focus on the technical and industrial characteristics of the implementation of the circular economy (CE), in terms of design of products, recycled materials, etc., the objective here is to understand the more managerial aspects of circular economy projects, and in particular the conditions for the emergence and development of these projects. The empirical study is based on 20 interviews with public and private companies and has been extended to eight other interviews with institutional partners, who have proven to be key stakeholders in the process. The results show that the criteria for emergence are essentially related to the competitive benefits that organizations can derive from projects. Combined with a maximization of environmental and social benefits (reduction of pollution, preservation of resources, job creation), economic actors identify the conditions for capturing value that are relevant to combat their challenges and those of their stakeholders. These conditions will help them to remove the obstacles to the implementation of these projects. The ability of the company to occupy a central place in the network and the type of management vis-à-vis its value chain will condition the mobilization of stakeholders.

Does the French Plan of Transition to a Circular Economy Institutionalize a Concept? A Transversal Analysis of Discourse.

This article, based on the theory of the social construction of reality, aims to understand if the construction of the plan of transition towards the circular economy (dispositif de transition vers l’économie circulaire – DTEC) induces, in France, the institutionalization of a concept. The emerging concept of the circular economy (économie circulaire – EC) is situated in the context of debates on taking into account the impact of economic activity on nature (l’impact de l’activité économique sur la nature – IAEN). A corpus of French texts, participating in the DTEC since 2008, is the subject of a transversal contextualized analysis of discourse. The results show a diversified institutional job, in the theorization phase, without a common conceptualization of EC but converging on the need for a regulated territorial waste management policy. The institutionalization process is then discussed with the institutional change model. The interactions between institutional pressures to take the IAEN into account introduce the prospect of societal institutional change.

Contributions of Transition Intermediaries in Sociotechnical Niche Diffusion

The transition to a sustainable social model can be fostered by policies that nurture innovation as a path to transformation. This involves spaces dedicated to innovation and experimentation, sociotechnical niches, which can be purposively created to generate change. This article highlights the characteristics of transition intermediaries and their contribution to niche development and diffusion. Two case studies from the French recycling industry are analyzed. Transition intermediaries play complementary roles within a chain, and niche intermediaries appear as a central element in niche development and diffusion.

Circular Business Models for Valorizing Agricultural By-products. Exploratory study of four initiatives

The circular economy consists of production systems that take into account the end of life of products. It is a new way of thinking that supports the transition towards sustainable development. Within the agricultural waste management domain, multiple initiatives have been started that manage waste and by-products in order to optimise the consumption of natural resources and reduce the environmental impact of economic activities. This article discusses the business models and value propositions of four different initiatives, the aim of which is to valorize agricultural by-products. Results show that if the value proposed targets a direct market, the corresponding business model is based on the market structure and delivers economic as well as social and environmental value. In contrast, for initiatives offering value that is not guided by direct market logic, public financial support and the participation of target stakeholders are crucial.

The Reverse Logistics of Packaging in the Context of a Circular Economy in Cameroon: Issues and Limitations

The recurrent dumping of packaging waste in natural environments in Cameroon causes problems that affect humankind and the entire planet. In line with sustainable development, a circular economy challenges the various actors connected to packaged products, in order to solve this scourge. The aim of this study is to analyze the attitudes and role of the stakeholders involved in packaging waste and to explain the processes of their reuse in order to identify the obstacles to this activity. The main results reveal two categories of circular economy practices: one carried out spontaneously with few actors (short loop) and the other organized under financial constraint with many actors because of the glaring lack of financial means and lack of activity support from the State authorities (long loop).

Technological and Organizational Innovations in Industrial and Territorial Ecology Projects

The emergence of new economic models which must respond to ecological transition issues has triggered eco-innovation processes. Industrial and territorial ecology is at the heart of these new economic models. It is characterized by its systemic approach and based on organizational, technological and social innovations. Its implementation must aim to reduce consumption of natural resources and design a new territorial development through various forms of competitiveness and attractiveness. Therefore, this article identifies industrial ecology as an innovation process with multi-scalar approaches: from the perspective of both firms and the network of firms and territories. The analysis is based on data from industrial synergies implemented in the city of Dunkirk and the harbor of La Rochelle in France.

New Circularity Indicators as Enablers of the Circular Economy?

Managing the circularity performance of technical products is of utmost importance in a context of transition to more circular industrial practices that are in line with the objectives of sustainable development. Yet, in the absence of a stabilized definition of circular economy, a growing number of inconsistent circularity indicators have been recently developed, leading to some ambiguity in their use and implementation by industrialists. Through a systematic analysis of a set of 55 circularity indicators, a classification is proposed to bring clarification as to their appropriate use. We then propose a synthetic set of five indicators to accompany industrial practitioners in their transition towards more circularity. We suggest key avenues for future research to evolve towards a circular economy in an effective, efficient and sustainable way.