4.1.1. Business Model in the DIS Sector Expressed through CEDIS.E
Joint work of member companies within the CEDIS.E Consortium is organised and conducted through expert working groups called focus areas (FAs). The FAs meet regularly for joint discussions on the issues at hand. An integral part of any discussion within the FAs consists of the emphasis on the rules for conducting discussions, with an emphasis on the need to respect the principles of anti-monopoly policy, the protection of free competition and the non-disclosure of information, which is considered by individual participants and enterprises to be the subject of trade secrets (HOW1 element).
The CEDIS consortium is considered global yet highly decentralised, with a strong emphasis on regional specific activities and scope. At the global level, the focus includes the coordination of key activities through the FA Technical Requirements and FA Communication. These FAs support both global and regional activities. The other FAs have a pure regional scope. In total, there are seven FAs directly relevant for CEDIS.E:
The FA Technical requirements (HOW1 and WHAT elements): the focus of the work includes the assessment of MRL recycling options from the technical perspective.
The FA Communication (VCO and WHO elements): the focus is primarily on working on supporting communication tools, in particular cooperation on the preparation of an essential guidance document called “White Paper”, as well as the creation of externally publishable documents on CEDIS and cooperation on the creation of websites to raise awareness and reach out to more stakeholders.
The FA Data (HOW1 and WHO elements): the focus is to identify the main locations of the MRL used. Another objective is to establish a baseline and progress measurement towards the set quantitative targets of CEDIS.E.
The FA Recycling Solutions (HOW1, WHAT and VCO elements): the aim is to identify existing and potential partners and specific solutions for the recycling of the MRL.
FA Transport (HOW2 element): the aim is to find and recommend suitable ways of transporting the used MRL, considering the applicable legislation at the national and European level, i.e., laws and regulations relating to waste management and transport.
The FA Regulatory (HOW1, HOW2 and VCO elements): the FA’s objective is mainly to monitor laws, regulations, guidelines, and recommendations relevant to the DIS and wasted MRL.
The FA Management (HOW1, VCO and WHY elements): the aim of the FA Coordination is to ensure coordination of CEDIS.E activities with CEDIS global activities, recommendations of principles of work, preparation of a contract on the functioning of CEDIS.E, supervision of activities and, finally, coordination of communication towards and with CEDIS.E stakeholders.
Individual member companies nominated their representants to the FAs at their own discretion. There are three smaller FAs: FA Transport (5 members), FA Regulatory (6 members) and FA Management (6 members). On the contrary, the FA Data (8 members) and FA Recycling Solutions (14 members) had a higher number of members. The globally active FA Technical Requirements consisted of 14 members. The number of FA members can be seen as an indicator of the importance of the FA for CEDIS.E, as well as of the individual priorities of each member company in the field of CE.
Using the quantitative content analysis of internal CEDIS.E documents (n
= 57), we have established the structure of the BM in the DIS sector expressed through CEDIS.E. The BM is shown in Figure 2
. This clearly indicates the dominance of the HOW1
element (42%). The results of the correlation analysis of relations between individual BM elements of CEDIS.E are shown in Table 2
. Of the 15 relationships, 10 show a relationship between elements confirmed at the significance level α = 0.05. The result indicates a significant coherence of the BM elements in the examined sample of companies. Remarkably, in our results, the VCO
element does not have a strong result and at the significance level α = 0.05 confirmed correlation with any other BM element expressed through CEDIS.E.
4.1.2. Business Model in the DIS Sector Expressed through COMPANIES
To compare cases, also over time [71
], analogically to the CEDIS.E data set, we have also analysed the CR documents (n
= 41) of the COMPANIES data set. By means of the quantitative content analysis, we determined the structure of the BM in the DIS sector expressed through the COMPANIES. The BM is shown in Figure 3
. This indicates a significant dominance of the HOW1
Our research Hypothesis 1 assumes that the structure of the BM elements in the COMPANIES changed in 2020 compared to 2019. By means of the t-test, we tested the Hypothesis 11 being that in the examined sample of CR documents (n = 41) of the COMPANIES, the cumulated relative frequencies of the BM 2019 elements ≠ cumulated relative frequencies of the BM 2020. This means that the BM COMPANIES 2019 ≠ BM COMPANIES 2020. At df 39, at the significance level α = 0.05, t 〈−1.427; −0.356〉 and p 〈0.162; 0.724〉, we reject the alternative Hypothesis 11 and accept Hypothesis 10 being that the BM structure did not change.
Proof of Hypothesis 10:
BM COMPANIES in 2020 is not significantly different from the BM COMPANIES in 2019. □
Confirming Hypothesis 10
allows the determination of the aggregated BM in the DIS sector, expressed through the COMPANIES data set for 2019–2020, as shown in Figure 3
shows the results of the correlation analysis between the BM COMPANIES elements. Of the 15 relations, 12 show a relationship confirmed at the significance level α = 0.05. The result indicates a significant coherence of the BM elements in the examined sample. Contrary to CEDIS.E, VCO
is correlated with three other BM elements. The visual comparison of Figure 2
and Figure 3
, as well as Table 2
and Table 3
, indicates differences in the significance of the BM elements and the relationships between them. The comparison of the BM COMPANIES with the BM CEDIS.E using the t-test at df 96, at the significance level α = 0.05, t
〈8369; 13,031〉 and achieved p
< 0.001 leads to the rejection of Hypothesis 30
and the acceptance of alternative Hypothesis 31
—there is a difference in BM structure.
Proof of Hypothesis 31:
The BM COMPANIES shows a different element structure from the BM CEDIS.E, expressed as the significance of the elements in the BM. □
4.1.3. Circular Economy Strategies in the DIS Sector through CEDIS.E
CEDIS.E focuses on the used MRL being a residuum resulting from the use of DIS. DIS products themselves, which are applied to consumer products, were not the primary interest of CEDIS.E for implementation of CE strategies. The DIS themselves become part of products (or their transport packaging) and are subject to individual and comprehensive product solutions from the CE perspective, considering the end of the life cycle of individual products. The issues of their involvement in the CE system are significantly different from the ones of the used MRL. CEDIS.E does not consider the disposal of waste MRL in the form of landfilling, or incineration without obtaining energy, as an acceptable end of waste solution.
Our analysis of group discussions within CEDIS.E, minutes of the meetings, CR and the websites of individual enterprises indicate the explicit or implicit performance of activities, which may be assigned to individual CE 9R strategies (R0–R9) [7
R0 Refuse. The introduction of “MRL-less” technology and product type may be considered as one of the activities of the DIS sector belonging to the R0 strategy. This is a DIS-based technology, yet it does not require the conventional MRL. Other options for implementing the R0 strategy are substitutes within different DIS categories. These do not generate an MRL type of waste.
Another possible alternative within the R0 strategy is to change the MRL structural design to the mono-material form. This means a modified design for circularity, which would facilitate the application of R6–R8 strategies. The application of the R0 strategy has not been the immediate focus of CEDIS.E. However, individual member companies clearly apply such a strategy individually.
R1 Rethink. This strategy is applied primarily in the form of the so-called “smart DIS” i.e., DIS with additional functions and integrated digitised information carriers. The second alternative includes the multi-layer DIS. With an unchanged DIS size and thus the same amount of MRL consumed, it is possible to provide a multi-functional DIS. The application of the R1 strategy has not been the immediate focus of CEDIS.E. However, interest in it may be found at the level of individual companies.
R2 Reduce is a widely applied strategy in the DIS sector. There has been a gradual reduction in the weight of the MRL used, by almost 10% over the past 10 years. This strategy may be called R2.2 Reduce incrementally.
There are also more radical attempts on the market to reduce the weight of the MRL, potentially leading to a reduction in waste by tens of percent from the current state. We call the strategy of significant weight reduction used by RL R2.1 Reduce radically.
The application of the R2 strategy has not been the immediate focus of CEDIS.E. However, interest in it may be found at the level of individual companies.
R3 Reuse. According to DIS industry experts, a meaningful reuse of an MRL already used once in an unchanged form does not seem technologically possible. Strictly speaking, the R3 strategy cannot be considered meaningfully applicable to the DIS sector. The application of the R3 strategy was a marginal focus of CEDIS.E and was soon found to be irrelevant. However, marginal interest in it, as an alternative strategy, can be seen at the level of individual enterprises.
With the existing technology and strictly in line with the definition [7
], R4 strategy cannot be considered applicable in the DIS sector regarding the used MRL. The reasons are the same as in case of R3. None of the examined companies applied a similar strategy to the MRL and the considerations for its implementation were not the subject of CEDIS.E’s activities.
Like R3 and R4, the current technology does not allow the repair and upgrading of an already used MRL in accordance with the definition [7
]. The strategy was not implemented by individual companies in the field of used MRL nor was it the subject of CEDIS.E’s activities.
R6 Remanufacture, or targeted use of the components of a disassembled product into a new product with the equal functionality. The resemblance to the R7 and R8 strategies requires conceptual refinement, consisting mainly of the principle of “equal functionality”. In the context of the DIS sector and in accordance with the declared preferences of CEDIS.E, what is considered as the R6 strategy is the process of the remanufacturing and thus practically reusing of the used MRL in the form of extracting materials contained therein and their use for the remanufacture of the major component for the MRL.
CEDIS.E calls the corresponding strategy in line with R6 as circular recycling. The strategy leads to the preservation of the MRL and DIS in the existing design and technology used. The application of the R6 strategy is CEDIS.E’s main and preferred focus.
R7 Repurpose, i.e., to change the purpose, and to use the disassembled product or its components for a new product with a different functionality. In the case of the DIS sector and the logic of MRL production, it is possible to define a change of purpose as an overhaul into a technologically related product.
CEDIS.E calls the corresponding strategy as recycling into other products related to MRL. This may include a targeted but also unintentional, yet accepted use of the used MRL in its second life. The R7 strategy application is the second preferred focus of CEDIS.E activities on the path to achieving CE in the DIS sector.
R8 Recycle. To process materials in order to obtain at least the same or better (high-grade, so-called upcycling) or lower (low-grade, so called downcycling) quality or value materials or product, when compared with the original one.
The CEDIS.E Consortium refers to recycling into other types of products on a similar raw material platform, without distinguishing whether they favour upcycling or down-cycling.
The application of the R8 strategy, together with R6 and R7, is the focus of CEDIS.E and the preferred strategy. Semantically, it is confused with the R6 and R7 strategies among practitioners, and in the case of the DIS sector, it is not easy to distinguish the R6, R7 and R8 strategies unambiguously.
R9 Recover. Use of materials with energy gain by thermal process. The R9 strategy is at the bottom of the CE 9R strategies ranking. This strategy is not preferred by the CEDIS.E Consortium. However, it is admitted as acceptable provided that the LCA (life cycle analysis) objectively demonstrates a greater environmental and economic meaningfulness in a particular case than a higher-level CE strategy. For some complex MRL structures in the DIS industry, it currently seems the only one feasible.
Within the DIS industry, the R9 strategy is occasionally applied both by direct participants—MRL and DIS manufacturers—in their own CHP units (combined heat and power generators) and by other stakeholders in the supply chain in the DIS sector.
Semantically, the R9 (recover waste for energy) strategy may be confused with efforts towards “recovering waste” through higher-level CE strategies.
RR Return and Replant.
The strategy is not explicitly mentioned by the authors [47
]. Within the examined DIS sector, it has been identified as relevant owing to the use of renewable sources and the existence of certification systems, confirming the ability to absorb the used materials by natural processes and the renewability of soil funds. What is particularly relevant is the certification of products for biodegradability and compostability, as well as the use of raw materials and materials certified according to the FSC®
(Forest Stewardship Council) and PEFC™ (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification) standards.
Following the qualitative part, we analysed by means of the quantitative content analysis the CEDIS.E documents sample (n
= 57). We have identified the structure of the model of applied CE strategies in the DIS sector expressed through CEDIS.E. The structure is shown in Figure 4
. This indicates a significant dominance of the R8 strategy (86%).
4.1.4. Circular Economy Strategies in the DIS Sector Expressed in the CR COMPANIES
By means of the quantitative content analysis of the COMPANIES documents sample (n
= 41), we have determined the structure of the model of applied CE strategies in the DIS sector expressed through CR COMPANIES. The structure is shown in Figure 5
Hypothesis 2 of our research assumes that the structure of the CE strategies in the COMPANIES sample changed in 2020 compared to 2019. Therefore, by means of the t-test, we tested Hypothesis 2 assuming that in the CR COMPANIES documents sample (n = 41), the cumulated relative frequencies of the CE strategies 2019 ≠ the cumulated relative frequencies of CE strategies 2020. This means that CE 2019 ≠ CE 2020. At df 39, at the significance level α = 0.05, t 〈−2.211; 1.079〉 and p 〈0.033; 0.909〉, we reject alternative Hypothesis 21 and accept Hypothesis 20 being that there is no difference in CE structure.
Proof of Hypothesis 20:
The CE strategy model of COMPANIES in 2020 is not different from the CE strategy model of the COMPANIES in 2019. The exception includes the R4 strategy at t = −2211 and p = 0.033. As this is an insignificant CE strategy with a representation of 1.35%, we have admitted the exception. □
On the other hand, the Hypothesis 4 test and comparison of CE COMPANIES with CE CEDIS.E using the t-test at df 96, at the significance level α = 0.05, t 〈−0.288; 10,887〉 and p < 0.002 or lower, leads to the acceptance of alternative Hypothesis 41 for strategies R0–R3, R5, R8 and R9:
Proof of Hypothesis 41:
CE COMPANIES ≠ CE CEDIS.E (for R0–R3, R5, R8 and R9 strategies). □
Only in the case of the R7 strategy t = −0.288 at p = 0.774, is Hypothesis 41 rejected and Hypothesis 40 accepted: R7 CE COMPANIES = R7 CE CEDIS.E. For the R4, R6 and RR strategies, it was not possible to test the hypothesis due to no occurrence of their indicators in CEDIS.E documents.