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Tyndall Manchester

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Collaborative digitally-enabled business models for a circular economy: Sustaining, managing and protecting value in the UK plastics sector.

19 January 2024

Adeyemi Adelekan and Maria Sharmina have published a new paper exploring the process of designing digitally-enabled collaborative business models in the UK plastics sector.

While significant progress has been made in researching circular business models, valuable for engaging crucial stakeholders, there is still a scarcity of studies adopting a system-level approach in both design and implementation. Additionally, despite the increasing use of digital technology applications for plastics, there is limited research on digitally-enabled business models for the circular economy. This paper addresses these gaps by co-designing two digitally-enabled circular business models with 16 stakeholders in the UK plastic sector. Value retention and data-as-a-service business models were designed, and conditions necessary for their implementation were discussed. This paper concludes by highlighting technology investments, asset management, and feedstock access as governance issues that may emerge during the development of digitally-enabled and collaborative circular business models. It argues that these issues have implications for advancing business model design, from the stage of experimentation to full implementation.

The collaborative tensions highlighted in this paper illustrate network-level factors that, when not effectively coordinated, have the potential to obstruct the transition to a plastic circular economy.

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