Beyond existing incentives and public aid, the sustainability and transparency models typical of circular economy offer numerous benefits to the SMEs that implement them. Among others we highlight:
Increased productivity, competitiveness and profitability
Eliminating waste from the industrial chain by reusing materials to their maximum, allows companies to reduce production costs and dependence on primary resources. In addition, the benefits of the circular economy are not only operational, but also strategic, and are not exclusive to the industry, because they also benefit customers, users and consumers, becoming both a source of efficiency and innovation.
By embracing the principles of the circular economy, companies benefit from substantial savings in raw materials, and reduce supply risks and price volatility. In addition, it allows them to increase motivation to develop innovation and generate jobs, improve productivity and competitiveness, and guarantee the long-term stability of the economy.
Reduced price volatility and increased security of supply
Adopting circular economy means less use of virgin raw materials and more use of recycled inputs, which reduces the exposure of companies to the prices of raw materials, which are very volatile, and generates greater resilience to this situation. . The threat of interruption of supply chains due to natural disasters or geopolitical imbalances is also reduced, since the decentralization of suppliers offers the possibility of having alternative sources of productive resources.
Generation of demand for new business services
The circular economy can generate demand for new business services, such as:
- Collection and reverse logistics that increase the useful life of the products that are reintroduced into the system.
- Marketing through platforms that extend the useful life and reuse of products, and that facilitate the reincorporation of waste into manufacturing circuits.
- Manufacture of new parts and components, and reconditioning of products that require specialized techniques and knowledge.
The collection, disassembly, reconditioning of products, reintegration into the manufacturing process, and making the items available to users require specialized skills and detailed process knowledge. In most cases, it is possible to apply economies of scale between manufacturers whose activities are related or complementary, generating synergies and new business opportunities for companies that share resources within the production circuit.
On the other hand, circular economy opens up an excellent opportunity to develop new sustainable business models, that can absorb the recycling of our waste and increase the reuse of resources. Related to this, circular economy not only helps to reduce the use of resources with the resulting environmental benefits, but can also generate employment.
More interaction with customers
Circular solutions offer companies new ways to interact creatively with customers. Certain business models, such as renting or leasing, establish a longer-term relationship between the company and its customers, since the number of contacts between them increases throughout the entire useful life of the product or service.
These commercial framework offer companies the opportunity to learn about usage guidelines that can lead to a complete cycle of improved products, better service and greater customer satisfaction.
Due to increasing consumer awareness, corporate social responsibility has gained great weight in business models. Adopting circular economy is undoubtedly one way of reinforcing the company's reputation. On the other hand, more and more companies and official bodies are demanding that their suppliers join their sustainability and environmental policies in order to be able to work with them, through audits or certifications. But not only about quality or the environment, also sustainability policies are being called for.
Encouragement to innovate
Initiatives to substitute linear goods for circular goods by "design", as well as the creation of reverse logistics networks and other systems to support the circular economy, represent powerful incentives to generate new ideas. The advantages of an innovative economy based on the exercise of "ecodesign" and "eco-innovation" include higher rates of technological development, use of raw materials derived from recycling and recovery, creation and training of specialized labor, improvement of energy efficiency, and opportunities to optimize the competitiveness and profitability of companies.
Any eco-innovation process must be developed by stimulating collaboration between companies and between different productive sectors, in order to generate synergies by taking advantage of the exchange of options in which the principles of circularity are applied. Collaboration between companies and technology centers, as well as work organized within different “clusters” with a specific focus, can also positively contribute to agile planning of actions leading to the adoption of sustainable production, business and , consequently, of consumption.