Circular Economy Platforms

Detailed overview of innovation with sample startups and prominent university research

What it is

Circular economy platforms are digital platforms that facilitate the exchange and reuse of industrial waste resources, promoting a circular economy and reducing landfill waste. These platforms connect businesses that generate waste with businesses that can utilize those waste materials as inputs in their production processes.

Impact on climate action

Circular Economy Platforms within Industrial Resource Efficiency foster climate action by promoting reuse, recycling, and resource sharing. By facilitating the exchange of materials and products, these platforms reduce waste generation, conserve resources, and minimize environmental impact, contributing to a more sustainable and resilient industrial ecosystem.


  • Digital Platforms: Circular economy platforms leverage digital technologies, such as online marketplaces and data analytics, to connect waste generators with potential users.
  • Waste Resource Matching: These platforms use algorithms and data analytics to match waste materials with potential users, ensuring compatibility and optimizing resource utilization.
  • Circular Economy Principles: Circular economy platforms are based on the principles of reducing waste, reusing materials, and recycling resources to create a closed-loop system.

TRL : 6-7

Prominent Innovation themes

  • AI-Powered Waste Matching: Advanced algorithms and machine learning are being used to improve the accuracy and efficiency of waste resource matching.
  • Blockchain for Traceability and Transparency: Blockchain technology can be used to track and trace waste materials throughout the circular economy loop, ensuring transparency and accountability.
  • Integrated Logistics and Transportation: Some platforms are developing integrated logistics and transportation solutions to facilitate the efficient movement of waste materials between businesses.

Other Innovation Subthemes

  • AI-Driven Waste Resource Optimization
  • Blockchain-enabled Traceability Solutions
  • Integrated Logistics for Circular Supply Chains
  • Smart Matching Algorithms for Waste Exchange
  • Transparent Material Tracking with Blockchain
  • Sustainable Construction Waste Management
  • Data Analytics for Circular Economy Optimization
  • Waste-to-Resource Conversion Platforms
  • Resource Efficiency in Demolition Waste Management
  • Digital Marketplaces for Industrial Byproducts
  • Collaborative Waste Management Solutions

Sample Global Startups and Companies

  • Aspire:
    • Technology Enhancement: Aspire develops a circular economy platform that connects businesses and consumers to facilitate the exchange, reuse, and recycling of products and materials. Their platform utilizes blockchain technology to track and trace materials throughout their lifecycle.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: Aspire’s circular economy platform offers transparency and accountability in material flows, enabling stakeholders to make informed decisions about resource usage and waste management. Their approach fosters collaboration and resource sharing among participants in the circular economy.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: Aspire serves businesses and organizations seeking to adopt circular economy principles and reduce waste generation. Their platform caters to industries such as retail, manufacturing, logistics, and consumer goods, facilitating the transition to a more sustainable and resource-efficient economy.
  • Circularise:
    • Technology Enhancement: Circularise develops a blockchain-based platform for traceability and transparency in supply chains, particularly for materials and products with complex value chains. Their platform enables companies to track the origin, composition, and lifecycle of materials through digital passports.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: Circularise’s platform offers a decentralized and secure solution for verifying the authenticity and sustainability of materials and products in the circular economy. Their approach promotes trust and transparency among stakeholders and supports efforts to achieve circularity goals.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: Circularise serves industries seeking to improve supply chain transparency and sustainability, including electronics, textiles, automotive, and packaging sectors. Their platform helps companies comply with regulations, meet consumer demands for ethical sourcing, and drive circular economy initiatives.
  • Nornorm:
    • Technology Enhancement: Nornorm develops a digital platform for circular economy management, focusing on materials reuse, remanufacturing, and resource optimization. Their platform enables companies to identify and implement circular economy opportunities across their value chains.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: Nornorm’s platform offers a comprehensive approach to circular economy management, integrating data analytics, lifecycle assessment, and collaboration tools. Their solution helps businesses transition from linear to circular business models by optimizing resource use and minimizing waste generation.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: Nornorm serves businesses and organizations seeking to adopt circular economy practices and reduce their environmental footprint. Their platform caters to industries such as manufacturing, construction, logistics, and consumer goods, facilitating the transition to a more sustainable and resilient economy.

Sample Research At Top-Tier Universities

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT):
    • Research Focus: MIT is actively engaged in research on Circular Economy Platforms, focusing on developing digital platforms and decision support tools to facilitate the transition to a circular economy across various industries.
    • Uniqueness: Their research involves leveraging technologies such as blockchain, IoT, and data analytics to create interconnected platforms that enable the sharing, reuse, and repurposing of resources, materials, and products within and across supply chains.
    • End-use Applications: MIT’s work has applications in manufacturing, logistics, and waste management. For example, they’re developing circular economy platforms that facilitate the exchange of surplus materials and by-products between companies, as well as digital marketplaces for sourcing secondary raw materials and components from recycled sources.
  • Stanford University:
    • Research Focus: Stanford University conducts cutting-edge research on Circular Economy Platforms, exploring innovative approaches for designing and implementing digital ecosystems that promote resource efficiency, product longevity, and material circularity.
    • Uniqueness: Their research involves interdisciplinary collaborations, combining expertise in design thinking, systems engineering, and business innovation to develop user-centric platforms that incentivize sustainable consumption, product sharing, and closed-loop material flows.
    • End-use Applications: Their work finds applications in consumer goods, retail, and urban infrastructure. For instance, they’re researching circular economy platforms that enable product-as-a-service models, product leasing, and remanufacturing services to extend product lifespan and reduce resource consumption.
  • Ellen MacArthur Foundation:
    • Research Focus: The Ellen MacArthur Foundation is a global leader in advancing the circular economy agenda, conducting research and fostering collaboration to accelerate the transition towards circular business models and practices.
    • Uniqueness: Their research involves developing frameworks, guidelines, and case studies to inspire and guide businesses, policymakers, and other stakeholders in adopting circular economy principles and practices.
    • End-use Applications: Their work has applications across various sectors, including textiles, plastics, and electronics. For example, they’re promoting circular economy platforms that facilitate material traceability, product stewardship, and collaboration among stakeholders along the value chain to promote resource efficiency and waste reduction.

commercial_img Commercial Implementation

Circular economy platforms are being implemented in various industries, including manufacturing, construction, and agriculture. For example, Aspire has facilitated the exchange of over 1 million tons of industrial byproducts, diverting waste from landfills and creating economic value.