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Comparative analysis between experts’ and companies’ perspectives towards transition to a circular economy
Transition towards a circular economy requires a systemic change in consumer behavior and lifestyles, consumption, production, industrial ecosystems and policies at all levels of society. Complementary knowledge from all societal sectors is necessary to support state-of-the-art scientific methods for understanding the preconditions, creating novel and soluble scenarios as well as assessing the impacts of transition towards circular economy. A new operational environment from the viewpoint of supply and demand will be required. Identifying the overall barriers and drivers for the development of a circular economy requires answering to several questions. What changes in consumption are needed and how these can be supported? Which institutional factors prevent from moving towards a society based on circular economy? What obstacles related to manufacturing and the competence base will lead to an adherence to existing technologies, and inhibit the adoption of new solutions? What kinds of skills are needed and which factors impact on the cooperation among different businesses for the development of circular approaches? The purpose is to find answers to these questions through knowledge co-creation and questionnaires to experts and companies. The purpose of the comparative analysis is to gain information in order to identify key industries, sectors, activities, material, waste and by-product flows. The joint fact-finding with experts, stakeholders and companies also enable to identify weak signals. Understanding bottom-up processes helps to identify and design possible win-win solutions and create possibilities to up-scale efficient measures and vice versa. Companies have important role in developing the elements of circular economy. The factors impacting potential applications of circular economy principles among the value chains based on waste and side streams, their innovation potential and interrelations, and industrial symbioses in North-Karelia region will be studied. Information gathered from companies is valuable also at different regional levels and will be up-scaled considering different sectors in the Finnish economy. The expert knowledge and perspectives are compared to the company level perspectives. The questionnaires and comparative analysis will be based on Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s circular economy system diagram and the ReSOLVE framework for businesses and countries willing to move towards the circular economy. The ReSOLVE framework (Regenerate, Share, Optimise, Loop, Virtualise, Exchange) will help to identify and analyse key industries, sectors, actions and materials that increase utilisation of physical assets, prolong their life, reinforce and accelerate the shift of resource use from finite to renewable sources. The aim is to quantify impacts and their co-benefits in terms of the use of natural resources, environmental impacts, value added as well as employment, and to evaluate systemic level impacts of the micro-scale approaches together with macro-level modelling. The final purpose of the comparative analysis is to implement knowledge co-creation in designing novel and soluble pathways in transition towards circular economy. Economic, environmental and social impacts of the future pathways will be modelled by combining material flow analysis, EEIO analysis and dynamic general equilibrium model offering possibilities to study the impacts of circular economy at a detailed level of industries, sectors and products.