Will low code help to drive the circular economy?

  Pritesh Pattni


   Chris Williams


We need a circular economy. We still largely operate a linear economy – where products are made, sold, used and thrown away. Our adoption of a recycling economy has helped to relieve some of our waste issues – but items can only be recycled a few times, so while it helps – it doesn’t solve the problem.

A global circular economy builds a ‘no waste’ approach into everything we do. From reducing the amount of raw materials needed to made products, to ensuring that there is an environmentally-sustainable approach when products are no longer needed. This economic approach will significantly reduce waste and help the planet to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

According to the World Economic Forum, “The circular economy decouples economic growth and development from the consumption of finite natural resources. It deploys principles and strategies to achieve global climate and environmental goals while increasing competitiveness and profitability. It changes the way we produce and consume to become more resilient, more innovative and more resource efficient and it increases our supply chain flexibility.”

The role of digital in a circular economy

In order for a global circular economy to become reality, individual business, organisations and governments need to put their own circular approach in place. For this to happen, they must become fully digital. Digitising means that businesses will have clear visibility over all their functions, better access to forecasting data and the ability to build a sustainable operating model.

digital circular economy
Source: Toward a circular economy: The role of digitalization, Annika Hedberg, Stefan Šipka


The climate crisis we are facing is man-made. Before the industrial revolution, most societies were largely waste-neutral. Though we have made astounding advances in technology and the way society functions, that progress has been at a huge cost to the planet and its natural resources.

So it is up to us to change things. And we can do that by committing to digitalising our businesses, organisations and operations to build waste reduction into everything we do.

The advantages of digitising

There are a number of reasons why digital transformation can improve our impact on the planet:

  1. Improving resource efficiency

The use of raw materials at the start of any production process is damaging to the planet. Any sort of drilling, mining, quarrying or farming is not only harmful in terms of the effort and emissions required to extract the materials, but also depletes the planet’s natural resources. On top of that, it’s expensive.

To move towards a circular economy, producers need to look at alternative materials or ingredients from other sources. Digitising can help businesses to measure the benefits of using alternative materials and help to track those materials through their lifecycle.

  1. Increased resilience

Businesses need to be able to adapt and survive in challenging times. We can see this now, with resource shortages caused by extreme weather or conflict. This is only likely to increase, and businesses need to find better ways to secure resources and manage their businesses. Having the right software in your business helps you to forecast better, have a greater understanding of where your weaknesses might be, and build better resilience into your operations.

  1. Design for a circular approach

The right digital tools will help businesses to design both products and services that support a circular economy. This includes assessing new materials, re-designing products where necessary, manging assembly and disassembly, and separating materials at the end of the product’s life for reuse elsewhere.

  1. New income streams

Businesses that are already embracing the move to a circular economy are finding that they are revealing potential new revenue streams in the process. For example, why throw tyres into landfill when they can be fully recycled into flooring or parts for other industries? Selling your tyres on – or even setting up a new spur of your business to manufacture other products, produces additional income in new markets. Digitising can help you to identify and exploit these opportunities.

  1. Better brand reputation

Customers, investors, regulators and communities now expect businesses to be doing more to reduce their environmental impact. By updating the way you work, and providing measurable data on how you are doing it, you can build a better brand reputation, which in turn will increase your sales.

How does low code play a role in the circular economy?

The emergence of a low code software development approach over the past 20 years has transformed the way that we think about coding and development.

Not only does it help to bring platforms and applications to market faster, it also supports ongoing updates, enhancements and additional development. These can be designed, programmed, tested and released in a fraction of the time of traditional hand coding.

This reduces the cost to business, and improves agility and response as markets change. It delivers a better experience for end users – whether internal to the business or external – and enables better collaboration between teams.

Adopting a low code approach supports organisations to achieve their digital transformations faster and more accurately. In fact, we have used our partner OutSystem’s low code platform to deliver just this for our waste and recycling industry clients through our Waste and Recycling One platform.

There are, of course, still some obstacles to achieving a fully circular economy using digital transformation.

Commitment to a circular economy – while many companies are investigating how they can move to a circular approach, many are sceptical, or just don’t have this on their radars. We need to continue to educate, promote and persuade businesses that this change is fundamental to their continuing success, and to the overall welfare of the planet.

Understanding digital support – most companies have digitalised processes, but in many cases these are only for certain functions, and they are often using disparate systems that don’t integrate and therefore reduce efficiency and productivity. We need to convince businesses to drive towards a full digital transformation and understand the importance of putting core systems in place to support this.

Perceived cost of change – this is often quoted as a reason for not moving towards a circular approach. Businesses see the change as a cost, not an investment. In fact, digitalisation represents a considerable growth opportunity for businesses of all sizes – and the overall cost to the planet of not changing is potentially disastrous.

We believe that a global circular economy is fundamental to saving our planet from the impact of the climate crisis. If you read around the issue, you’ll see that leading consultancies, thinkers and influencers think the same.

As champions of a low code approach to digitalisation, we know that this is the best path to making the changes you need. Why not contact us to see how we can support your ambitions?

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