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Open AccessArticle

Identifying the Equilibrium Point between Sustainability Goals and Circular Economy Practices in an Industry 4.0 Manufacturing Context Using Eco-Design

1
Department of Business Administration (ADO), Applied Economics II and Fundaments of Economic Analysis, Rey-Juan-Carlos University, 28032 Madrid, Spain
2
Department of Sciences and Methods for Engineering, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, 42122 Modena, Italy
3
Department of Engineering “Enzo Ferrari”, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, 41125 Modena, Italy
4
Project Management Office, Gruppo Ceramiche Gresmalt, 41049 Sassuolo, Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Soc. Sci. 2019, 8(8), 241; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci8080241
Received: 27 June 2019 / Revised: 2 August 2019 / Accepted: 12 August 2019 / Published: 14 August 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Adopting Circular Economy Current Practices and Future Perspectives)
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Abstract

For manufacturing companies, the transition to circular business models (CBMs) can be hampered both by the lack of relevant data and by operational tools. Eco-design, associated with Industry 4.0 IoT (Internet of Things) technologies, can be an effective methodological approach in developing products that are consistent with the principles of the circular economy. The reason is that, in the design phase, decisions are made that can significantly influence the degree of sustainability of products during their lifecycle. Therefore, in the manufacturing environment, eco-design represents an innovative approach to include sustainability among the traditional industrial variables such as functionality, aesthetics, quality, and profit. This study aimed to test eco-design as a tool to define the equilibrium point between sustainability and circular economy in the manufacturing environment of ceramic tile production, and to demonstrate how new business opportunities can be created through evolution from a linear to a circular business model, thanks to IoT and Industry 4.0 technologies used as enabling factors. The main result of this paper was the empirical validation in a manufacturing environment of sustainability paradigms through eco-design tools and digital technologies, proposing the circular business model as an operational tool to promote the competitiveness of enterprises. View Full-Text
Keywords: eco-design; sustainability; circular economy (CE); circular business models (CBMs); Industry 4.0; industrial symbiosis; industrial district (ID); Italian ceramic industry eco-design; sustainability; circular economy (CE); circular business models (CBMs); Industry 4.0; industrial symbiosis; industrial district (ID); Italian ceramic industry
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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MDPI and ACS Style

Garcia-Muiña, F.E.; González-Sánchez, R.; Ferrari, A.M.; Volpi, L.; Pini, M.; Siligardi, C.; Settembre-Blundo, D. Identifying the Equilibrium Point between Sustainability Goals and Circular Economy Practices in an Industry 4.0 Manufacturing Context Using Eco-Design. Soc. Sci. 2019, 8, 241.

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