Track 1: Digital Innovations for a Circular Society

The Institute for a Circular Society (i4CS) recognizes the complexity of a transition to a circular society and critically explores the value of digital innovations, including digital twinning and serious gaming, in facilitating this shift. In this track, we will discuss how such tools can be utilized in designing circular solutions. With an emphasis on circularity in hospitals and spatial planning, we address issues of measurability, data origin, accessibility, and potential divides between users and non-users.

Join us to harness the potential of developing digital solutions for a truly circular society!

Here’s a little teaser of what you can expect in this track:


TimeType of sessionTitle
13.45 – 14.45Plenary sessionDigital Innovations for a Circular Society
14.45 – 15.15BreakChoose your session:
15.15 – 16.30Breakout session 1Digital Innovation for designing Circular Safe Hospitals: opportunities and challenges
15.15 – 16.30Breakout session 2Digital Innovations for Circularity in Urban-Rural Spatial Planning

The urgency of transitioning from a linear to a sustainable circular society cannot be overstated. Our current patterns of production and consumption exacerbate resource depletion, climate change, environmental pollution, and biodiversity loss, in addition to fostering geopolitical dependence and social inequality. We believe we need to explore new and unorthodox ways to explore solutions for a circular society by bringing together researchers and societal partners in unusual collaborations.

In this digital age, the potential of digital tools to stimulate circularity is immense. However, despite the potential, circularity is not often integrated into these digital tools. By incorporating circular principles into AI algorithms, serious game mechanics, virtual simulations, and decision-support systems, we can revolutionize how we approach circularity. But what are the best sustainable, circular ways to use these digital tools, what opportunities are there, and what critical sustainability pitfalls must we be wary of?

Sessions in detail:

Plenary session

Digital Innovations for a Circular Society

Confirmed speakers:

Abstract presentation

A business model describes how an organization creates, delivers, and captures value. Circularity changes the value organizations offer and, thus, their business model. Digital technologies enable the realization of circular strategies in various ways to create circular value through innovative business models. In this talk, I will introduce the foundations of digital circular business models and present a framework for using different digital technologies to enable specific circularity strategies in manufacturing. I will go over an example technology, blockchain, to depict how it can enable the design of circular business models based on our experiences in a petrochemical manufacturing ecosystem. I will briefly cover the importance of performance measurement for business models for achieving circularity objectives.  

Abstract presentation

CORE Changemakers is a student driven organization with the focus on solving difficult circular challenges like solar panel recycling, stopping waste fires from happening and automating inspection. Wanna know what AI can do to make circularity possible?

Abstract presentation

Digital technologies — such as the Internet of Things, big data and advanced analytics, additive manufacturing and 3D printing, blockchain and online platforms — are regarded as key enablers for a circular economy. A systematic literature review and analysis of 48 scientific articles published in the last five years was conducted to identify the first-, second- and third-order sustainability effects of a digital circular economy. Second-order environmental effects such as improved resource efficiency and reduction of emissions, waste and material use in products and production processes are often envisaged. However, limited attention is given to social and economic impact, and rebound effects. Existing literature also lacks a solid assessment of actual (vs expected) impact, and a more balanced consideration of negative (vs positive) effects.

In this digital age, the potential of digital tools to stimulate circularity is immense, yet often underutilized. Technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Serious Gaming, Digital Twins, and Digital Support Systems hold the key to unlocking innovative approaches towards circularity.

However, despite the potential, circularity is not often integrated into these digital tools. This represents a missed opportunity for harnessing the full power of technology in advancing sustainability goals.

In this plenary session, we have invited experts in the field to talk about various types of digital innovations. Together, the experts will set the scene for the past, present and future of circular digital innovations. What does the digital landscape look like, how can we use it to promote circular solutions, what opportunities are there, and what critical sustainability pitfalls must we be wary of?

Breakout session 1

Digital Innovation for designing Circular Safe Hospitals: opportunities and challenges

Confirmed Speakers:

Abstract presentation

Unused medication, stemming from excessive packaging or inflexible dosing, contributes to substantial waste and environmental harm. Manual tablet crushing is a common practice to adjust doses for certain patients, such as neonates and toddlers, and in veterinary care. However, this method increases medication waste and pollution. The lack of dosage flexibility in conventional tablets exacerbates this issue. Precision pharmacy, enabled by advancements in genomics and pharmacology, promotes dosing tailored to individual needs. mini-tablets offer a solution, allowing precise dosing adjustments and stability across age groups. If embraced by the pharmaceutical industry, mini-tablets could significantly reduce drug waste and environmental impact. In this project, we investigate different aspects to facilitate the adoption of mini-tablets. We will present the latest results from a life cycle assessment of mini-tablets and a compaction simulation approach for the manufacturing of mini-tablets to support their environmentally-conscious development.

The Dutch healthcare sector is responsible for 13% of the national footprint of material extraction and for 7% of the national emissions. As such, it is a major contributor to climate change, loss of biodiversity and pollution of water, air, and land which, controversially, all negatively impact human health and wellbeing. In this digital age, the potential of digital tools to stimulate circularity in hospitals is immense, but also raises questions.

In this breakout session, we will explore existing projects harnessing digital solutions to enhance circularity in healthcare. However, our focus extends beyond technological advancement alone. We acknowledge the questions and concerns surrounding digitisation: is this truly the path to the future? And what environmental and ethical considerations arise from these innovations? Therefore, this session will not only delve into the potential opportunities but also confront the challenges and complexities inherent in digital transformation.

Join us for an interactive workshop where we will not only discuss innovative solutions but also critically examine the ethical and environmental implications of digitization in healthcare. Let’s navigate the path towards circular, safe hospitals together.

Breakout session 2

Digital Innovations for Circularity in Urban-Rural Spatial Planning

Confirmed speakers:

Abstract presentation

REPAiR was an EU-funded Horizon 2020 project, which ran from 2016 to 2020, and aimed to provide local and regional authorities with a transdisciplinary open source geodesign decision support environment (GDSE) developed and implemented in living labs in six metropolitan areas. The GDSE allows for the co-creation of integrated, place-based eco-innovative spatial development strategies aiming at a quantitative reduction of waste flows in the strategic interface of peri-urban areas. The GDSE features an open source prototype web application that supports both the decision-making process and the research required for each of the five steps to guide the living lab process that starts with identifying a key waste flows, continues with mapping these flows, and ends with proposed spatial interventions to reduce waste quantities in these flows. The GDSE was implemented in Amsterdam (NL), Naples (IT), Gent (BE), Hamburg (DE), Pécs (HU) and Wroclaw (PL). 

How do we arrive at circular spatial planning solutions that benefit both urban and rural areas? This is the main driver of the second breakout track.

A focus on spatial planning in cities and their surroundings is essential for a successful and rapid transition to a sustainable circular society. This transition is hampered by a lack of insight where circular opportunities lie, and involvement of relevant stakeholders to help them bring about. Digital tools present an opportunity to provide more clarity on circular solutions, while also facilitating involvement of experts and non-experts.

This breakout session features several digital prototypes for spatial planning. Despite their potential, existing spatial planning tools often lack integration of circularity principles. As an attendee, you’ll have the opportunity to explore these prototypes and engage with the inventors to discuss how circularity can be (further) incorporated.