Track: Sustainability in Supply Chain, Enterprise Operations and Strategies
The circular economy (CE) has been a policy initiative for supply chain looping strategies to reuse, refurbish, recycle, minimise, eliminate, share, and optimise material and energy use while maintaining firm profitability. Nevertheless, it appears there is no unified reporting framework that defines how effective an organisation’s circular economy activity is. Furthermore, such a framework requires systems-wide thinking and co-ordinated action across business, government and society. Also, it appears there are no previous studies that have examined how an organisation’s CE effectiveness can be developed or measured specifically based upon Systems Theory. In particular, within the context of how an organisation designs itself, its products and services, such that it can continually adapt and remain viable and sustainable in the future.
If organisations were concerned enough about their own viability in relation to the products and services they sell and the impact that they have on the environment, then their business strategies and plans would include evidence to continuously improving circular economic activity.
If customers and Regulators understood how effective an organisation’s products and services were in having a reduced or minimised impact, or better still, had a regenerative effect on the environment then this would create visibility of CE competition and CE value against incentives.
To create a CE competitive environment, the products and services that form part of that CE competition relies upon ‘thinking in systems’. Systems Thinking is the ability to understand and/or design non-linear interdependencies of feedback relationships in context. For example, within a CE context, designing things for their next use, design for disassembly, maintaining the residual value of raw materials, designing products as an asset instead of a liability (to the environment) and designing products of service.
As this research is still a work in progress, this paper does not aim to present a conclusive approach or methodology; rather, it presents a progressive step towards the development of a CE readiness framework within the rail sector.
The longer-term aim for the outcome of the research in future will be to form the basis to enable a common platform to determine levels of CE value/competition not only within the Rail sector but wider industry.