With this inter- and trans-disciplinary project we want to demonstrate in cooperation with partner companies from five different sectors that sustainable management in the form of a circular economy can be ecologically beneficial and profitable for companies.

Lay summary

Our economy is primarily based on a linear principle according to which, at the end of a product’s lifecycle, it is disposed of and not reused. The consequences are the generation of waste and inadequate use of natural resources. This is where the principle of a circular economy comes in. A number of reasons, when possible and purposeful, a product is never disposed of as waste, but rather can be disassembled, refreshed and profitably returned to a new product cycle. A number of reasons lead to an increased interest in the principle of the circular economy: Overuse of natural resources, price volatility of raw materials, increased consumption and population growth, as well as negative effects of waste on ecosystems. In addition, alternative industrial systems and associated business models in Western economies with highly competitive and saturated markets are seen as drivers of innovation.

The objective of this inter- and trans-disciplinary project is to show that the principles of the circular economy can be applied to companies in the Swiss economy ecologically and economically. In this regard, we are working together with eight well-known partner companies and will prepare industry-specific business plans, which show how the developed resource-efficient patterns of the circular economy can be introduced into the value chains of the participating companies.

As part of this project we want to help Swiss companies make a relevant contribution towards the avoidance of waste thanks to innovative business models and enable them to switch to resource-friendly production of goods without neglecting the economic perspective. Maintaining profitability and the resulting stimulus for the economy from new business models will reveal unexploited potential. The broad scope of topics requires a comprehensive view and an interdisciplinary approach. Therefore our research team comprises environmental scientists, lawyers, political scientists and economists.