CIRCULAR IQ – How circular economy becomes a no-brainer

Circular IQ collects and aggregates data across the entire supply chain

The digitalization is a huge opportunity for circular economy businesses – a fact that led to the foundation of a startup based in the Netherlands that is now a finalist of this year’s Green Alley Award, Europe’s first startup prize for the circular economy. Anyone who wants to make sustainable purchasing decisions must have detailed information on the circularity of products. This is ensured by the software Circular IQ. It collects and aggregates data across the entire supply chain, from the source of the materials to the supplier contracts. This enables companies to monitor and optimize the circularity of their products and creates transparency for customers and buyers. Read here, how exactly the technology works and what kind of benefits companies can get out of it.

The digital circular economy is a complex subject. Could you please describe your technology and how it works in simple words for someone outside the world of IT?

We at Circular IQ believe that in a circular economy reliable information about the composition and reuse-potential for products and all the materials in them is crucial. Only if we have this information, we can optimize what we already have, cycle more and better and stop wasting resources.

We also believe that digitization and leveraging purchasing power for good are key levers for creating a circular economy. Our startup has developed an accounting and collaboration software for collecting, enriching and unlocking actual and real time sustainability data. This data is collected from multiple sources including algorithms to interpret results. Using our software helps to pinpoint where value is lost, thus helps locate, avoid and mitigate waste. Reliable and supplier specific data on products and their composition is needed to optimize what is already there and improve recycling rates and efficiencies. Therefore, we provide transparency on what’s extracted and provide an infrastructure to use purchasing power to steer away from extraction and promote recycled and rapidly renewable materials.

Your main target group are procurement managers. In public administrations they might have regulations that oblige them to buy sustainably. But how can you ensure that all other purchasers also decide for the most circular and most sustainable product?

The good thing here is that circular procurement – when executed well – saves over 10% in direct costs. Moreover, there are some added benefits of avoiding waste (which saves additional costs) and preferring furniture that is designed for disassembly and preferably in a modular way, making it easier to increase the lifetime and save costs on maintenance as well. More benefits include lower carbon emissions and the guarantee of safe materials in these products which are even designed for reuse, so that they remain available for future generations.

It all becomes even more interesting when upgrading and extending the life of existing furniture is included in the scope of the circular procurement project. Apart from even bigger savings and positive impact on the environment, this combination helps increase awareness on the circular economy topic within the organization and provides excellent case for story-telling and engaging with customers and suppliers on the sustainability topic using tangible and concrete examples.

What are the biggest challenges for your go-to-market strategy?

The fact that digitization in general is not high on the agenda of most governments and businesses is challenging. This, combined with the fact that most procurement officials have yet to discover that they can save costs, extend the life of products and achieve their sustainability goals by collecting reliable information about the composition and materials inside the products’ they buy, are our biggest challenges I guess.

Right now, we work for frontrunners, but it’s our ambition to serve partners in every value chain, but we are starting with Office Furniture. In this market our MVP is used a lot by local, regional and even the national government, when tendering circular office furniture. Because of the growing demand 2 of the European Top-5 furniture manufacturers are now using our software. A roll-out in their supply chains will help us uncover a new group of users further upstream in the value chain. This will create opportunities for further improvements and accelerate growth throughout the furniture industries’ value chains.

About Green Alley Award

The Green Alley Award is the first award for start-ups and entrepreneurs in the circular economy. Its mission is to turn the linear into a circular economy and transform the waste and recycling industry as we know it today. The annual European prize was created in 2014 by Landbell Group, the leading supplier of global environmental services, along with Germany’s crowdfunding pioneer, Seedmatch. Over time, more partners have joined – Bethnal Green Ventures, a UK accelerator programme for startups using tech for good, and R2Pi, an EU Horizon 2020 project on circular economy business models.

For more information: www.green-alley-award.com

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