Topic 2 Circular Value networks strategies, enablers and benefits

Organisations can develop different value network strategies in a circular economy:

Industrial Symbiosis: The waste stream of one company is used as input for other company/companies, usually in a specific regional setting. Some of your waste could be useful for a local manufacturer to develop new products with it.

Take back management: Organising logistics (ie. via network collaboration) for taking back end-of-life products from the customer, facilitating the execution of a sustainable materials management strategy (I.e. returning hotel room furniture when it needs to be remanufactured for a second life).

Platform approaches: An online or on-site solution enabling shared use of assets (ie. materials, knowledge, infrastructures, time, or even space).  It could be using a platform for e-mobility in one destination.

Cooperation with customer: Organisation in which company and customer effectively collaborate to create and capture value, developing new circular business models. This strategy may be closely related to previously mentioned take-back systems too.

Proximity or localisation: Organising the physical flows of resources and products on a local scale (i.e. local supply chain management, local 3D manufacturing, etc.). Products based on proximity are part of this strategy; zero mile domestic products.

Value network collaboration: Collaboration between different businesses, government bodies, local communities, NGOs or other organisations throughout the value network to achieve a common goal.

Connecting and reinforcing a network of actors within their supply chain and beyond, this is, creating a value chain network, by managing transparency of data, transactions, material flows, responsibilities and sharing benefits is a key factor for closing resource loops and implementing circular practices.

Enablers and barriers for the establishment of a value network for circular cross collaboration

 Enabling factors

  • Guaranteeing a transparent communication and exchange of information and knowledge (i.e., about products, processes, etc.) with all involved stakeholders (within and/or across value chains and sectors).
  • Switching from protective approaches towards more open and collaborative structures.
    Making sure that collaboration is pragmatic.
  • Having a common understanding of the relation established and mutual trust. Agreeing on a strategic long-term vision and framework by all involved stakeholders.
  • Guaranteeing that all partners are committed, sharing common goals, values, expectations and mutual opportunities (i.e., long term views and short-term gains).
  • Understanding the entire value chain and identifying the extra value gained through the establishment of the collaboration.
  • Providing mutual support.
  • Establishing a progressive leadership that will be able to identify strategic champions, promote shared values and mindsets and involve relevant stakeholders.
  • Clear chain coordination, contracting, and financial mechanisms.


  • Data conflicts, as a result of lack of information or differences on interpretations Relationship conflicts, due to the existence of stereotypes, miscommunication or strong emotions and negative behaviours;
  • Difficulties to change organizations’ culture and organizational foundations
    Legal and administrative burdens (i.e., institutional system that is aligned with the principles of linear economy);
  • Mental, personal barriers;
  • Structural conflicts, including time/geography related constraints, differences in role assignments and unbalanced power levels over resources;
  • Lack of ICT solutions that may guarantee the availability of efficiency data for all stakeholders in a transparent way;
  • Obstacles arising from differences in the objectives and values of involved stakeholders Complexity of value chains;
  • Lack of a skilled staff;
  • Difficulties that industrial customers may have for understanding the value or the life-cycle perspective of products and services;
  • Potential conflicts between sustainability and profitability;
  • Lack of agreement on how to spread the costs involved in developing circular solutions and the Lack of financial solutions;
  • Lack of support for the integration of sustainability objectives in products and services.