High-tech and economy of materials

The objective of Workshop 2, the first of its kind in the Assises, was to explore advances to be expected from new technologies, and to take stock of the current situation.

With the support of high-level experts – among which representatives of Cap Gemini, in the digital sector, and Bouygues, which has been engaged in innovation within the framework of the Elsa programme for the recycling of batteries, as well as Rémy Le Moigne, a specialist of circular economy – the Workshop discussed technological advances like containers equipped with chips that helped improve waste collection and reduce costs. It seems that digital technologies in general, and artificial intelligence in particular, have generated and are still to generate many innovations, especially by making resources available.

Digital technologies, expected to change the world of waste, may thus be looked at from three different perspectives: the use of data, markets and product lifecycle. Much more accurate strategies can be applied, indeed, thanks to digital technologies, during the lifecycle of products. An example of that is low-cost captors with which manufactured objects can be equipped for the identifying and tracking of component use. Caterpillar has been developing them for the purpose of managing maintenance of mining machinery and, above all, of building new machines with old components. The Danish Maersk shipping company has been operating its fleet of container ships in the same manner.

Besides digital-based innovations, breakthroughs in business models themselves have also taken place. TerraCycle, in particular, in order to assert its social and environmental goals, has merely eliminated the notion of waste. This company has been working with marketing departments of world-leading brands (Bic, L’Occitane in the Provence Region, etc.), which have been organising and valorising the recycling of their products for their clients. Clearly, the interests and action of businesses – but also, in some cases, of local authorities – and public demand have been converging towards promoting circular economy.

> Please also read the summary of the Workshop drawn up during the Assises: New technologies at the service of circular economy

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