More efficient business models by applying circular economy

07.10.2020
The second session of the "Toward a circular economy" online meeting series, organised by Funseam and the Repsol Foundation, was focused on the challenges of improving efficiency in production processes and on the need to convert waste into high-value-added products. The three companies that participated in this event work to make the circular economy beneficial to the environment and also cost-effective for investors.
Toward a circular economy

View video

Martí Parellada, chair professor of Economy at the University of Barcelona and Board of Trustee member of Funseam, started off the session by highlighting that "the current production model and ever-increasing levels of consumption do not make up a sustainable system. They put pressure on resources and natural capital, rapidly erode ecosystems, and make for very volatile prices". He believes that a change in the production model is imperative.

The round table, moderated by Miguel Ángel Patiño, head of research for the Spanish newspaper Expansión, also included the participation of three companies that offer innovative and disruptive solutions in different production areas:

Recircular is a digital platform that puts businesses that want to sell their surplus in contact with those who want to purchase it, finding a use for these resources. This project, that within three years is expected to prevent more than 50 000 tonnes of waste from ending up in landfills, detects opportunities for reuse but also measures the environmental impact of each transaction it performs. According to its founder Patricia Astrain, "one of the pillars of the circular economy is viewing waste as a resource. So, where you see waste, we see an opportunity".

Optimitive is a high-tech company centred on the optimisation of industrial processes. It has an artificial intelligence application that assists engineers in decision making and improves aspects like productivity, quality control, and energy savings. Guiomar Archay explained the functioning of the tool, which was successfully implemented "in cement production plants, in oil and gas businesses, and in the chemical sector, with performance improvements of between 4 and 10%".

E4efficiency is a spin-off of the Enagás group, which takes advantage of cold air being let off in the regasification process at liquefied natural gas plants. As an example, it's already being used in Europe's largest ice factory located in Barcelona and in the Sustainable Cold Logistics Hub project at the Port of Huelva. This has led to a 50% electricity savings and a 90% reduction in its carbon footprint. According to Javier Ruesga, "the idea of sustainable cold energy is a new concept of green energy that we are still learning more about".

The session closed with a debate on the role of innovation in the search for solutions to reduce our dependency on raw materials, lower energy costs, and increase the life of products in the circular economy. All of the speakers agreed on the fact that we must make these benefits available to citizens who are also involved in this change: "Industry must understand that it's not just about taking care of the environment but also about doing business with it. It would be an imposition to continue with the current pace we're on".