WE.3.A || Business Models for a Circular Economy

Doumit, Farah; Michel, Axel

Finding powerful dynamics and adequate components in a business model is a stepping stone to successfully achieve the shift toward circular economy. Evolutions concerning the organization of the sectors and the economic models are a must. However, questions rise on how to introduce circularity into business through organizations. Other debates emerge on the components a circular business model should consist of. Furthermore, discussions emphasize on the need for a new paradigm in the energy sector for the whole economy to be truly circular. To fill this gap, our study focuses on the following research question: How can a large company actively promote circular economy through businesses ? We investigated the case of a large company in the energy sector. It is taking on the challenge of the energy transition, and appears to be at the heart of business models entrenching the circular economy principles at a holistic level. Our results highlight two possible approaches to actively promote circularity. First, it can encourage renewable energy production that mimics the closed-loop circular systems of natural ecosystems. Furthermore it can promote innovative businesses revolving around the assets to produce that energy. Innovation in business models is therefore put forward to support the idea that disruption in business-as-usual operations allows to apply the circular economy principles and create circular business models. Second, a company can influence and assist other businesses through adequate in-house tools, consulting offers and investments to enhance circularity. We argue that large companies can leverage their experience and their influencing power to bring out the notion of circular economy by supporting other businesses from a technical (circular key performance metrics, innovative tools for adequate engineering and territorial planning) and organizational (governance and skills) point of view. Our work proposes examples based on a big utility’s experiment.