Irrespective of the EU Circular Action Programs, the application of linear-circular transformation, transition management, and system models based on feedback from cycles has already started in business [18
]. There are economic sectors where this phenomenon is very spectacular (biotechnology, informatics, transport), the linear-circular transformations observed in these areas are actually the result of the natural development of business models. The resizing of business processes and models—that is, circular business model innovation—is therefore, if not necessarily conscious, an integral part of current business processes. In traditional value chains, these innovation processes can diverge, consumer chains break, economic and social change processes run side by side, changes actually evolve side by side (in each sector separately) and there is no relationship between the resources used. In this case, innovation in the traditional sense is not necessarily a useful element of system processes either (disruptive innovation effect). Nevertheless, development does not stop, but without the different levels of development (or values) building on each other, the loss of resources in the transformation process can be very significant, and the development/transformation phases lengthen. That is why it has a key role to play in consciously building the values that we want to see as an integral part of economic life for a long time to come. Sustainable business models are thus well-embedded systems, use resources efficiently and operate with less risk (mainly affecting risk factors stemming from global systems), permanently changing people’s lives and the ways companies or society operate in a given circle. This position is in line with [5
], who viewed environmental solutions as market expectations rather than complementary functions. The authors argued that the current benefits of business as usual (BAU) processes will soon pose a threat to companies in many ways. These include deficiencies in primary resources, including resource price volatility, declining supply chain efficiency, increasing bans on waste trading, declining costs of renewable energy sources, etc., and these unfavorable patterns can also be termed “linear risks”. Recent studies [6
] supported the above when they argued that the profitability of “mainstream” economic systems lies in outsourced external factors, i.e., it is cheaper to waste resources than to monitor and eventually regain them. However, this situation seems to be changing soon, as key global players (e.g., China, Kenya, Bangladesh) have exited from the waste markets.
It can therefore be assumed that the transformation from the “take-make-waste” approach and the creation of closed resource loops will be a basic requirement for companies and economic actors in general. This is one of the reasons why the European Commission has issued the Closing the Loop (An EU Action Plan for the Circular Economy) action plan, also mentioned in the introduction, which urges the transition to a circular economy [18
]. The Circular Economy Action Plan is a concept that rejects the traditional features of economic growth (e.g., mass production, use of non-renewable resources, production of preserved goods, etc.) but offers innovative solutions to preserve natural capital and enhance social well-being. Achieving the best possible circular flow of materials and energy through economic processes and avoiding resource leaks is a top priority [20
]. Contrary to previous sustainability efforts, these circular initiatives are receiving increased attention from the business sector. According to a recent study by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), 80% of companies surveyed say that accelerating growth and increasing competitiveness depend on the use of circular strategies. The remaining 20% identified risk reduction as the main motivation for developing business models [21
]. These results suggest that the application of circular strategies has reached the realm of business model research. In interpreting the concept of circular business models, Scott (2013) [22
] argued that circular initiatives should use recyclable biological materials or use their technical raw materials continuously. Both activities are expected to be harmless to ecosystems and can be operated without waste. According to Mentink (2014) [23
], circular businesses need to create value and capture material flows in a closed material cycle. However, he pointed out that a business model alone cannot be a circular system. Previous studies have not examined the business-level changes in circular progress, i.e., what circular elements and solutions the currently used business models use, and what phase of the linear-circular transformation they are in. Therefore, the main goal of our research in the future should be to evaluate the current business models and to analyze their fit with circular solutions. In characterizing business models, Segers (2015) [24
] highlighted that each model variant is most often used in a consolidated manner by market participants, so a firm integrates the mechanisms of multiple models into one application when looking for the right solution for itself. In order for a small business to develop a proper business model, it must consider important design considerations [25
]. One of the most popular types of sustainable business model design methods is the canvas design matrix, developed by Osterwalder and Pigneur (2010) [26
] under the name “Business Model Canvas” (BMC), which has gained incredible popularity over the past decade. Lewandowski (2016) [27
], who proposed the ReSOLVE criteria system for the circular evaluation of business models, considered BMC itself to be the best tool for developing and customizing business models. In a visual matrix, BMC demonstrates to the stakeholder how their business can create, deliver and capitalize on the value it offers. Of course, designed business models cannot consist of just circular attributes, as the operation of a business requires several additional activities that do not directly affect energy and material flows.