Copyright @ 2023 CE-RISE

The Role of Scientific Dissemination in Advancing the Circular Economy

Brought to you by Evert Bouman and Miguel Las Heras from NILU

Transitioning to a circular economy (CE) is not just a technological challenge but a societal shift that demands widespread acceptance and understanding. Leaving aside the economic and regulatory factors, acceptance hinges on individuals’ and businesses’ awareness of environmental issues and effective solutions for its implementation. 

Here, we explore the role of the CE-RISE Information System in facilitating the adoption of Circular Economy practices, examining the challenges and benefits associated with scientists actively engaging in the communication process. 

While there is a growing consensus on the importance of scientists engaging in dissemination activities, there are certainly concerns about potential drawbacks and challenges. Some argue that it is a political issue, that inadequate or inaccurate communication may lead to misinformation, or simply that scientists don’t have enough resources or training for such activities. Scientists, however, are uniquely positioned to bring the latest state-of-the-art knowledge to society.

This aids in addressing the following issues: 

Acceptance of circular economy measures is intricately tied to awareness, and individuals need to comprehend the systemic nature of energy and material efficiency issues. Effective communication of the environmental and economic benefits of adopting circular economy practices can increase public trust and confidence in them. 

Businesses often struggle to implement CE practices due to limited access to relevant information, tools, and resources. Scientists can play a crucial role in filling this gap by providing accessible and usable formats that are up to date.  

Scientists can provide case studies and examples of successful circular economy implementations. These real-world applications serve as tangible evidence of the feasibility and benefits of transitioning from linear to circular models. 

The CE-RISE project aims to present cutting-edge scientific analysis that identifies optimal solutions for material reuse, recovery, and recycling to a wide audience in a clear and practical way. This will be achieved by combining research activities with the creation of tools for sharing results. Its key product, the CE-RISE Information System, will present relevant circular economy and product sustainability indicators calculated and harvested from Digital Product Passports (DPPs).  

The CE-RISE project is also responsible for providing a bundle of tools to ensure that scientific analysis is useful to users. Open software solutions will support stakeholders in their decision making, whether it is a recycler deciding on the end-of-life processing method for a set of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) parts, or an undecided consumer trying to make a sustainable choice for a new printer in their office. This is accomplished by involving businesses throughout the entire development process of the Information System, ranging from manufacturing raw materials to end-of-life collection, repair and recycling facilities. In addition, CE-RISE engages consumers who use electrical and electronic products.  

CE-RISE’s case studies provide real-world examples of successful implementation of circular economy principles and sustainable product practices. This helps bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical application, empowering businesses to optimise their operations and consumers to make informed purchasing decisions based on product sustainability indicators derived from DPPs. 

Scientists, as knowledge creators, play a crucial role in closing the gap between research and action. Actively sharing their findings contributes to both societal and industrial acceptance, speeding up the adoption of circular economy practices. The dissemination of scientific work also provides businesses with valuable tools and information that can facilitate the practical implementation of circular economy practices, fostering a more sustainable and efficient economic system. 

CE-RISE aims at reaching a diverse audience, including policymakers, business, and the general public. Partners do not only contribute to their respective work packages but act as knowledge creators for the project. In cooperation with communication experts, CE-RISE researchers, scientists, and policy officers regularly draft opinion pieces, educational articles, and explanatory texts for different dissemination channels in an easy to read manner.