Is the Internet of Things the Key to Unlocking the Circular Economy?

A new report, Intelligent Assets: Unlocking the circular economy potentialwhich was released earlier this week by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and World Economic Forum, argues that the pairing of circular economy principles with emerging Internet of Things (IoT) technologies could be crucial for driving innovation and moving towards a prosperous global economy in the future.

IA-feature-optimisedUp to 50 billion devices are predicted to be connected to the internet by 2020 as part of an ongoing technological transformation of the global economy. In a recent feature article, Circulate asked whether this digital development needed a clear direction to maximise the economic and societal benefits.

As an initial broad exploration of the link between IoT and the circular economy, while drawing upon a range of expert input, Intelligent Assets successfully establishes an interplay between the ‘value drivers’ of a circular model, and the potential benefits offered by a network of connected devices and information.

The report integrates independent contributions from leading thinkers in the field including Kenneth Cukier (The Economist), Bernard Meyerson (IBM), Frank Appel (DHL) and Nicolas Cary (Blockchain). Some words in support of the report:

Information is at the heat of ensuring that businesses around the world can make the right decisions to eradicate waste and use resources effectively. The internet of things, with its smart sensors and connected technologies, can play a key role in providing valuable data about things like energy use, under-utilised assets, and material flows to help make businesses more efficient. Their role in building a future with a more circular economy is critical and we are excited about the role of technology will play in realising this vision.

Kate Brandt, Lead for sustainability, Google Inc.

We have tremendous challenges ahead of us. We have to improve the human condition around the world as the population grows, while at the same time learning to tread more lightly on our planet. The only way we’ll meet them – and i’m confident that we will – is with a combination of technological progress, innovation, markets and goodwill.

Andrew McAfee, Co-director, MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy; author, The Second Machine Age

Source: Intelligent Assets Report Offers Vision of a Circular Future Powered by Pervasive Digital Transformation

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The Author

Seb Egerton-Read

Seb Egerton-Read

Seb writes daily content for Circulate across the full spectrum of the website's topics. Previously he has spent five years as a freelance writer for a number of websites and blogs. You can e-mail Seb at seb[at]