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Digitisation and the Circular Economy: A Review of Current Research and Future Trends

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School of Aerospace, Transport and Manufacturing, Cranfield University, Bedfordshire MK43 0AL, UK
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Centre for Competitive Design, School of Water, Energy and Environment, Cranfield University, Bedfordshire MK43 0AL, UK
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Rik Medik Building, Surrey Business School, University of Surrey, Surrey GU2 7XH, UK
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Amy Johnson Building, Department of Automatic Control & Systems Engineering, The University of Sheffield, Portobello Street, Sheffield S1 3JD, UK
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Energies 2018, 11(11), 3009; https://doi.org/10.3390/en11113009
Received: 5 October 2018 / Revised: 26 October 2018 / Accepted: 29 October 2018 / Published: 1 November 2018
Since it first appeared in literature in the early nineties, the Circular Economy (CE) has grown in significance amongst academic, policymaking, and industry groups. The latest developments in the CE field have included the interrogation of CE as a paradigm, and its relationship with sustainability and other concepts, including iterative definitions. Research has also identified a significant opportunity to apply circular approaches to our rapidly changing industrial system, including manufacturing processes and Industry 4.0 (I4.0) which, with data, is enabling the latest advances in digital technologies (DT). Research which fuses these two areas has not been extensively explored. This is the first paper to provide a synergistic and integrative CE-DT framework which offers directions for policymakers and guidance for future research through a review of the integrated fields of CE and I4.0. To achieve this, a Systematic Literature Review (SLR; n = 174) of the empirical literature related to digital technologies, I4.0, and circular approaches is conducted. The SLR is based on peer-reviewed articles published between 2000 and early 2018. This paper also summarizes the current trends in CE research related to manufacturing. The findings confirm that while CE research has been on the increase, research on digital technologies to enable a CE is still relatively untouched. While the “interdisciplinarity” of CE research is well-known, the findings reveal that a substantial percentage is engineering-focused. The paper concludes by proposing a synergistic and integrative CE-DT framework for future research developed from the gaps in the current research landscape. View Full-Text
Keywords: circular economy; industry 4.0; data; 9Rs; digital technologies; digital intelligence circular economy; industry 4.0; data; 9Rs; digital technologies; digital intelligence
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Okorie, O.; Salonitis, K.; Charnley, F.; Moreno, M.; Turner, C.; Tiwari, A. Digitisation and the Circular Economy: A Review of Current Research and Future Trends. Energies 2018, 11, 3009.

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