Session 9 - Business models for a circular economy in a sustainable society

Convener - Edeltraud Guenther, Peter Saling, Hiro Kitada

Speaker Titel Abstract Kind of presentation
Adeyemi Adelekan Circular business models of social enterprises in Nigeria  This paper aims to contribute to the thematic discussion on business models for a circular economy, which seek answers to the question: how does it pay to close the loop? “Closing the loop” is a phrase coined by scholars (Stahel & Reday-Mulvey, 1976) to demonstrate a need to move away from a wasteful, linear open-ended economic system to a more closed and circular type (Boulding, 1966; Murray et. al., 2017) that is less dependent on virgin resources and ensures the efficiency of their usage. Widely studied as a suitable design approach for the sustainable development goals, I define the circular economy as those activities that recycle and reduce waste and redesign production patterns to avoid the creation of waste. Social enterprises represent an example of a bottom-up approach to circular economy design (Ghesellini et. al., 2016), which includes the work of grassroot initiatives in waste recovery and recycling, that applies innovative mechanisms to extract resources out of urban and industrial wastes. Despite the importance of social enterprises for sustainable development (Hudon & Huybrecths, 2018), there is limited knowledge on their practices, particularly within the circular economy (Moreau et. al., 2017) and developing country (Haugh et. al., 2018) contexts. Therefore, this paper intends to investigate the following: How do social enterprises conceptualize the circular economy in Nigeria? Following an ontological approach, which co-locates knowledge and practice in the affairs of organisational actors (Giddens, 1984), this paper will explore this question through in-depth interviews and document analysis of nine social enterprises operating in the solid-waste recycling sector in Lagos, Nigeria. A description of their economic activities, from value proposition to capture, can help illuminate issues around organisational sustainability and meeting wider economic, social and environmental goals, particularly as it concerns the implementation and advancement of circular economy principles in similar international contexts. Oral (normal length)
Dehaja Senanayake Business Models for Urban Food Waste Prevention, Redistribution, Recovery and Recycling  The Sustainable Development Goals envision in goal 12.3 to “halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along the production and supply chains by 2030”. This target is extremely relevant for both low-middle and high income countries, where reducing food loss and waste along the supply chain can have immediate and significant impacts environmentally, socially, and financially for their populations. This study identified eighteen different business models, analysed from over 400 global operations that are working with the overall aim of reducing food loss and waste (FLW). The business models, developed into business model canvases, focus on urban food waste prevention, redistribution, recovery and recycling, from post-harvest to consumption. Among the prevention mechanisms, monitoring and management systems were the most outstanding. For redistribution, platforms and logistic services that connect different stakeholders to either redistribute surplus food to people in need or generate a second market are most prominent. Common recovery methods include both food and non-food products. That suitable for human consumption is utilised in cafes and soup kitchens, or converted into long-shelf life products; whereas waste is converted into non-food products such as bio-plastics. Finally, for food unfit for human consumption and no option for redistribution or recovery, recycling pathways such as processing to animal feed, compost and energy recovery are available. All of these models could be supported by policies and regulations, which are often missing at a local and national level. Additionally, lack of data and the reticence especially in informal sectors, create difficulties in assessing or comparing the viability of models as well as transferring them into different country scenarios. Research could therefore address the scale and sustainability of models supported by an enabling environment. Oral (normal length)
Felipe Alexandre de Lima, Jayani Ishara Sudusinghe Achieving sustainability performance: The role of risk mitigation strategies in redefined relationships within Circular Supply Chains  Purpose: The Circular Economy (CE) ideal has been conceived as a business approach in supply chains (SCs) to achieve a breakthrough in sustainability performance. However, scant attention has been paid to the related risks of redefined relationships within Circular Supply Chains (CSCs), empowering positive economic, environmental, and social outcomes. Against this background, the purpose of this paper is to investigate how the sustainability performance of CSCs is improved through risk mitigation strategies applied to buyer–supplier dyads and triads. Design/methodology/approach: Given the research goal, a Systematic Literature Review (SLR) was carried out, with English-language peer-reviewed papers retrieved from the Web of Science (WoS) and Scopus database, published from 1996 to October 2019. Subsequently, a content analysis was conducted based on an abductive approach. Findings: By focusing on circularity thinking in SCs, this paper identifies related risks and necessary risk mitigation strategies in redefined relationships. It then offers a conceptual framework regarding the intersection between risk and relationship management, highlighting the positive sustainable performance outcomes of this linkage. Research limitations: Even though SLRs are a scholarly contribution per se, future research would be necessary for operationalizing the identified categories and testing them through empirical work. Originality/value/implications: The paper adds value to recent literature and practice by elucidating the implications of risk and relationship management in CSCs. It also contributes to the theoretical development of Supply Chain Management (SCM) discourse under the light of the CE context. It informs practitioners how to successfully mitigate risks in redefined relationships to realize and continue the circularity within CSCs. Keywords: Risk Management. Relationship Management. Sustainability Performance. Circular Economy. Circular Supply Chain. Oral (normal length)
Hirotsugu Kitada Enhancing the circular economy: Incorporating material flow thinking into business through environmental management control systems  Material Flow Cost Accounting (MFCA) is a useful method for promoting a circular economy. MFCA calculates the value of products and waste based on material flows. The material flows are visualized as physical and monetary streams, which encourage corporate decisions to improve resource efficiency. Since being internationally standardized as ISO14051, MFCA has been adopted by various companies also in developing countries. Previous studies have pointed out that it is necessary to cooperate with other management controls in order to use this method effectively. In this study, we analyze the impact of the design of Environmental Management Control Systems (EMCS) on the use of MFCA. An analysis using questionnaire survey data for Japanese companies revealed the following points. First, there are two aspects of corporate management practices related to resource efficiency: “Material Flow Analysis” and “Material Waste Cost Management”. The former is a material flow thinking approach that manages material efficiency based on material flows. The latter is an end-of-pipe thinking approach that focuses on on-site waste management. Second, these two resource management approaches are associated with different EMCS. In both approaches, it is necessary to accumulate human resources that can respond to the environment through training and selection of appropriate employees. For Material Waste Cost Management, there is a compatibility with controls that focus on improving on-site practices within a narrow range of manageability, such as action/results controls, and controls that focus on organizational culture. On the other hand, it becomes clear that interactive control through the active involvement of top management is compatible with the Material Flow Analysis but hinders the use of Material Waste Cost Management. Various environmental management tools have been developed so far. To pave the way towards a circular economy, we need to understand the linkage between management systems and tools. Oral (normal length)
Stephanie Stumpf, Katharina Spraul  Going Circular in the Plastics Industry – A Business Model Perspective  The circular economy has the potential to transform the traditional linear logic within an economy which is usually based on the take-make-dispose principle (De Angelis 2018). The circular economy proposes more resource-efficient models that imitate the cyclical structure of ecosystems in which the term waste does not exist. This should decouple global growth from resource consumption (Merli/Preziosi/Acampora 2018). The literature refers to the circular economy as an umbrella concept under which many different concepts can be combined (Blomsma/Brennan 2017). Business models are taken as a focal point in this discussion as the departure from the linear logic demands profound transformations from companies (Urbinati/Chiaroni/Chiesa 2017). Business models are also important since the traditional linear value chain is replaced by systemic approaches and value creation networks with cooperation. Other conceivable changes are a change in payment models, a combination of products with services and the establishment of a more interactive form of customer relations (Urbinati/Chiaroni/Chiesa 2017). Such business model innovations require different levels of adjustment, depending on which business models the respective company has pursued so far (Lüdeke-Freund et al. 2018; Schaltegger/Lüdeke-Freund/Hansen 2012; Ritala et al. 2018). One industry which is particularly challenged by shifts in the regulatory environment is the plastics industry. The European Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy calls on the actors on different stages of the plastics life cycle to take immediate action to close the loop (COM(2018)28). Our research project investigates the learning dynamics regarding the business models of four companies in the plastics industry all of which are part of a joint eco-innovation. First explorative interviews reveal different business models as a starting point, since some have extensive experience in combining products with services, and take-back and rental systems. The comparative empirical analysis allows to draw conclusions on business models above the single company level. Oral (normal length)
Katja Beyer The social dimension of sustainability in an emerging circular fashion economy: A comparative analysis of themes and concepts in corporate, academic and stakeholder publications  Faced with scandals and accusations in terms of environmental and social costs of global fashion production and consumption, fast fashion retailers have been urged to reshape business models and to foster transitions towards sustainability. One of the most advocated approaches in recent years is the concept of a circular economy which is considered to aim at creating a restorative and ecological economy. It includes aspects such as closing loops, decoupling of economic wealth creation from natural resource consumption or designing out waste. Though the concept is considered to providing benefits for society as well, research on what aspects of a circular economy are actually essential for society and which could be potentially significant is scarce. This particularly proves true for research on the integration of the concept in the global fashion industry. Drawing upon this shortcoming, the present study examines the integration of social sustainability-related aspects in corporate sustainability reports of the two fashion retailers C&A and H&M. It contrasts them with publications of scholars and stakeholders about sustainable and circular fashion between 2014 and 2018 by applying the software-based content analysis tool LeximancerTM. The results delineate specific themes and concepts related to social sustainability in the fashion industry, thereby revealing similarities and differences between various temporal and thematic courses of development among single players. Findings show that fashion companies have gradually been communicating more about social sustainability-related aspects opposed to academic and stakeholder publications. Furthermore, while single social sustainability-related aspects exclusively appear in each of the publication groups analyzed, others seem to reflect a mutual influence among the three parties involved. Yet, the results also show that a great number of social sustainability-related issues cannot be found in any of the publications, thereby calling for a greater elaboration on social aspects in the conceptualization of a circular economy. Oral (normal length)
Mark White Crafting a Sustainable Future: Material Cost Flow Accounting (MFCA) as a Basis for Sustainability Claims at a Small Craft Brewery  The business case for sustainability -- including efforts to achieve a circular economy -- ultimately rests on a firm’s ability to deliver financial value to its investors. The economic profit concept Economic profit = Net Operating Profit After Tax (NOPAT) – WACC * Invested Capital (1) provides a handy method for summarizing the four ways by which a firm might achieve this goal, i.e., • Increase NOPAT by increasing revenues or decreasing costs • Decreasing the use of invested capital, i.e., “do more with less” or • Reduce financing costs (the weighted average cost of capital, aka WACC) by reducing risk This presentation reports the results of a Material Cost Flow Accounting (MFCA) analysis performed on a small craft brewery in Charlottesville, Virginia as a basis for making data-driven claims associated with all of these strategies. For example, one method of capturing value with the “Increasing revenues” strategy is to differentiate the company’s products based on a particular sustainability virtue, e.g., a smaller water footprint, with hopes of achieving a higher willingness-to-pay. In today’s world, the success of such a strategy is likely to depend on the firm’s transparency and perceived authenticity. Identifying and minimizing waste streams -- with their attendant costs -- is another obvious application of the MFCA measurement tool. The deliberate coupling of physical measurement (of material flows) with opportunities to create financial value offers insights into the central question of this session: “How does it pay to close the loop?” with expected positive outcomes. Poster only
Alamir Louro The integration between Transformative Service Research and Circular Economy: A systematic review for the framework, nomological network, and research agenda development.  We developed a systematic review from Scopus and Web of Science journal hubs using bibliometric results and exploratory factor analysis (EFA) of coupling papers to build a framework using the EFA factors to advocate an intersectional research agenda for Transformative Service Research (TSR) and Circular Economy (CE). It aimed to close the payment loop using cities literature. We show the state of the art contrasting Bulkeley and Betsill (2005), Glaeser (2011) works and sustainable cities literature with other points of view, while also developing some definitions to highlight a connection between TSR and CE. It raised opportunities for different disciplines like strategy, sustainability, and public management. It elucidated the major role of Quality of Life and Business Models construct on this extant literature connection. Furthermore, we concluded with a framework operationalization on a nomological network from the whole sample of papers, related to cities, for future quantitative research, and finally, we developed an agenda for multidisciplinary or cross-disciplinary research engagement. Poster only
Alison Parker Business models for circular sanitation – Lessons from India  Providing safe sanitation in the developing world is still a major hurdle to achieving Sustainable Development Goal number six, with 61% of the global population lacking safely managed sanitation services. Circular economy in the context of sanitation focuses on the whole sanitation chain which includes the provision of toilets, the collection of waste, treatment and transformation into sanitation-derived products including fertiliser, fuel and clean water. As well as potentially reducing the cost of toilet provision, a circular economy approach also has the potential to enable positive environmental and health impacts, unlike other systems where waste may be discharged untreated into the environment. The implementation of a system level transformation is not simple, considering operator capacity, lack of funding, slowly growing acceptance by local communities, and a policy landscape which can be inconsistent in its support for the circular economy. As India invests in long-term infrastructure to improve citizens’ quality of life (e.g., Swachh Bharat Mission), it could incorporate circular economy principles into the design of infrastructure, creating effective urban nutrient and material cycles, enhancing economic development and welfare. This represents a significant opportunity for government and businesses in India to develop circular sanitation infrastructure to recover and valorise biological nutrients. After collecting information from five case studies across India, covering different treatment technologies, waste-derived products, markets and contexts; this research identifies the main barriers and enablers for circular sanitation business models to succeed. Whilst there were many different institutional and technological arrangements, common issues of managing and enforcing incoming waste and competing with chemical fertilisers were found. Poster only
Ana Pego Business Model for a Circular Economy based on Portuguese Offshore energy cluster Algarve region is one of the most important in the tourism sector in Portugal. The economic output from this sector is one of the important vectors to understand sector sustainability based on changes in supply for consumers. This means that the tourism industry has started to change attitudes towards an ecosystem-based on consumer behavior and positive externalities. The circular economy (CE) constitutes a new concept of changing attitudes for consumers and organizations in the tourism sector. The propose is to analyze the tourism market in the region in order to answer the following questions: which products can be developed? what are the key activities? Which resources will be needed? Which economic and social values are created? The analysis will provide a new business model for the tourism sector in the region based on stakeholders, consumers, and managers towards a sustainable sector. It is expected that the tourism industry will follow a sustainable business model. This chapter concludes that the tourism industry in the Algarve has started to show interest in changing attitudes to an efficient and smart perception of the CE. This investigation will give other sectors the opportunity to discuss the CE process based on a new supply of and innovation in products. Poster only
Jill Alexandra Küberling-Jost Circular Economy Business Models: The role of product as a service solutions in the Consumption Phase  We face an increasing attention on environmental problems. A major reason lies in the linear economic system based on the “make-use-dispose” logic resulting in a single-use consumption system (Esposito et al., 2018). In particular, this leads to a huge waste problem in the consumption phase. However, an increasing number of social entrepreneurs establish innovative business models to support the circular economy. They offer solutions to reduce the waste problem in the consumption phase with products as a service, for example, reusable solutions (see Lüdeke-Freund et al., 2018; Lacy & Rutqvist, 2015; Tukker, 2015). Firms offering product as a service solutions are named “market makers” (Schweizer, 2005). They introduce a new market segment to an industry and create relationships between market actors that were not feasible before (Lüdeke-Freund et al., 2018). The research project aims at identifying several key dimensions with which we can explain how it pays for firms to close the loop. It focuses on providing the impact of circular economy business models (CEBMs) on the firms competitiveness and their limits motivated by the key components of CEBMs. In accordance with Lüdeke-Freund et al. (2018) and Ghisellini et al. (2016) key components are: value preposition, value delivery, value creation and value capture. It aims at answering the question of how firms create value through products as a service solutions to stay competitive in the long-term. To analyze CEBMs, I use a qualitative meta-analysis to accumulate primary insights and synthesize evidence from primary qualitative data across a set of CEBMs case studies. Across the re-examined cases it allows to provide more generalizable conclusions and, in turn, more comprehensive applications of existing findings (Habersang et al., 2018; Hoon, 2013; Rauch et al., 2014) on how firms can establish to contribute to a more environmental friendly society at the consumption phase. Oral (normal length)
Jitendra Manikrao Yadav Closing the Material Loops: Urban Rural Nutrient and Carbon Cycle (URNCC) in Maharashtra  The concept of circular economy provides a variety of technical and economical option for production of city compost from organic fraction of urban waste and usage of the same in agriculture areas to ensure closing the loops. This product provides the economic opportunity for businesses in the form of production and marketing & sale. The main customers for city compost are farmers, Farmer Producer Companies and fertilizer marketing companies. The relationships between Urban Local Bodies (ULBs), farmers, fertilizer companies involved in marketing & sale of city compost are crucial. The activities required are capacity building, production of compost, provision of testing facilities, branding, demo plots and incentive schemes. Experts for implementation of projects, funding and incentives/capital investment, financial instruments, laboratories, research institutes are required. Resources can be channelized through ongoing government schemes, use of ICT based solutions and market principals – demand/supply. Various composting techniques, branding and packaging, testing & digital solutions for marketing & sale are crucial in achieving desired results are crucial. The costs involved are capital investments for SWM facilities, branding/marketing, demo plots and researches etc. With all these interventions revenues from sale of city compost, operation & maintenances of SWM facilities (compost production), marketing/sale, ULBs and farmers can get incentives. This concept of circular economy is being implemented in Maharashtra state (384 ULBs) of India and various business models are developed. The potential in state is to produce approx. 350000 tons of compost every year and which is sold at Rs. 3000 to Rs. 5000 per tons. Government of Maharashtra has developed own brand “Harit” for promotion, marketing and sale of city compost. The compost is marketed and sold through to digital platform ‘Harit Tikcer’ as web based mobile app. The incentives are also provided to ULBs for production and sale of city compost under brand Poster only
Johannes Paul Designing a Toolbox to support implementation of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for managing plastic packaging waste in developing countries  Plastic pollution has emerged as a severe international issue. Economic growth, urbanisation as well as changing consumption and production patterns have led to a rapid increase in global plastic production. In 2016, it totalled around 335 million t compared to 230 million t in 2005 . At the same time, solid waste management has not kept up the pace. Worldwide, around 2 billion people lack access to waste collection while waste of 3 billion people is not treated in an environmentally sound manner . In many developing countries large amounts of non-collected waste are burned, buried or dumped along streets and canals, which contributes to air, soil and water pollution, likewise to leakage of waste into oceans. Recent international agreements within UNEA and the Basel Convention call for measures to enhance the management of plastic waste. Amongst others, they suggest the use of extended producer responsibility (EPR) mechanisms. EPR schemes exist in various European and other member countries of the OECD whereas lately, various multi-national consumer goods industry and business associations have announced voluntary commitments to reduce plastic waste leakage into the environment, that also include establishment of EPR schemes. In order to increase international exchange and to support best practices for circular economy in low and middle-income countries, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) initiated the PREVENT Waste Alliance that was launched in May 2019 in Berlin. First initiatives aim to reduce packaging respectively to enhance packaging and plastic management along the entire value chain. The proposed paper will present a concept for transferring EPR systems to developing countries including a set of tools developed for and adjusted to the specific country conditions in Indonesia and Ghana. Poster only
Jorge Ivan Cifuentes Sustainability and application of the circular economy through electric mobility in the mesoamerican region  Mobility by means of electric transport has been used since the 19th century, by electric railroads and experimental vehicles. In 1910 more than 50% of vehicles circulating in the World were with electric motors drives. In the region of Mesoamerica, vehicles with internal combustion engines in light, heavy and passenger transport are still used extensively. Imported electric vehicles still have high prices for meeting market requirements in the more developed countries. A business plan or model is presented in 2 phases: 1.- The conversion of vehicles with internal combustion engine to electric motor drive vehicles 2.- Design, patent and manufacture of electric vehicle model adapted to the requirements of the local market in the Mesoamerican region. Then expand the market to other regions. This has an impact on the sustainable development and is a model that adapts to the circular economy. This project is in process now as University research at School of Mechanical Engineering from University of San Carlos of Guatemala with 2 prototypes one is a motorcar locally known as TukTuk, the second one is a Mitsubishi Mirage; By 2020 it is planned to begin the design, patent and manufacture of an electric vehicle. Later will be a business model to build a new company or enterprise. This is a R&D with social, economical and sustainable development impact in the region. Poster only
Joseph Adelegan CIRCULAR ECONOMY AND ORGANIZATIONAL PERFORMANCE: EVIDENCE FROM AFRICAN NIGERIAN PULP AND PAPER INDUSTRY  Being “green” is socially desirable, yet whether it pays to be “green” is unclear. This question has become more important to industries particularly in developing economies. Empirical studies have provided evidence of positive relationship between green investment and organizational performance nexus from developed countries for specific industries. However, there is an acute dearth of evidences on same nexus in Africa. Hence, if organizations identify the specific financial and operational benefits of green innovation, they will adopt it. From this background we quantitatively examine the green investment and organizational performance nexus in the Nigerian pulp and paper industry through mediated hypothesized structural equation model. Data was collected using survey methodology from 324 pulp and paper companies in Nigeria. Hypothesized relationships were tested by structural equation modelling in AMOS. Contrary to arguments in literature for developing economies, the findings from the study provide strong evidence of positive relationship between green investment and organizational performance for the Nigerian pulp and paper companies, thus it pays to be “green”. Moreover, these firms surprisingly, are investing in them to a degree uncommon in most developing countries. The findings from the study further shows that the driver for green investment in developing economies is profitability rather than environmental policy. Evidence from the study have implications for environmental regulators in tropical developing countries characterized by lack formal regulatory framework and enforcement mechanisms, limited institutional capacity and inadequate information on emissions. The findings suggest that environmental education about the economic benefits of cleaner technologies could enhance compliance with minima cost to regulators. Hence, the study provides some valuable managerial insights into the relationship between the nexus of greenovation, environmental regulation and organizational performance in Sub Saharan Africa. Hence, the urgent need for a paradigm shift within the industry in developing economies. Oral (normal length)
Marion Ruffieux Business model for decentralized Energy-Water-Food systems in Sub-Saharan Africa  Decentralized Energy-Water-Food systems are a potential solution to foster the economic development of rural farming communities in Sub-Saharan Africa, by proposing a holistic system approach, integrating renewable energies in the agriculture sector. Through using electricity to power water pumps, a higher agricultural productivity is achieved, thus increasing the income of the community farmers. Agricultural residuals can then be used to produce biogas, closing the circle to a self-supporting system. The system improves the quality of life of the community through the supply of electricity and water for private consumption, while simultaneously providing income generating opportunities via farming. However, due to the novelty of the concept, no business model, a crucial aspect for the successful deployment of such system, has been developed yet. This contribution thus proposes a business model for a decentralized Energy-Water-Food System. Osterwalder’s (2004) business ontology is used as a framework to structure the analysis. To complete a literature review comparing different options regarding each part of the ontology, a multiple case study design is employed. Ten cases were selected from the energy, water and food sectors. Findings suggest that the first implementation step should be the establishment of a solid partnership with an off-taker for the agricultural produce. Contract farming agreements with this off-taker would incentivize and reward entrepreneurship. A community cooperative appears to be the preferred alternative to run the Energy-Water-Food system, as it allows to maximize the synergies between the three sectors. Therefore, the bargaining power of its members towards external partners increases and the profits are internalized within the community, and can be spread evenly throughout its members. Finally, this paper provides a complete business model for the community of Dagbambia, in Ghana, that can be adapted to other farming communities’ needs and environment. Oral (normal length)
Nabil Haque Prospects and challenges of productively using sludge from effluent treatment in Bangladesh  As industrialization picks up pace in Bangladesh, number of effluent treatment plants have grown steadily in accordance with environmental laws and its weak enforcement. Although such laws have been in existence since 1997, there were gaps in it especially when it came to how sludge generated from effluent treatment will be dealt with. This gap was addressed in 2015 through publication of a comprehensive national standards and guidelines for sludge management detailing some management options. These options have not yet reached the level necessary to address the scale of the problem, about which relevant data & information from all industries are unavailable. This study attempts to address the data gap by mapping the sources of sludge generation and limited management options available using geographic information system. Although these maps are not comprehensive in coverage of all sources and options, it offers basic assessment for developing a supply chain to route sludge from treatment plants to existing options offering productive uses. Several studies have investigated productive uses of sludge in the context of Bangladesh, but the macro level analysis of developing an industrial symbiosis have been missing. This paper recommends use of sludge as partial substitute of clay for brick making in the short run mainly because of the spatial distribution of kilns near generation sources. In the long run, investments are needed to develop infrastructure and supply chain to avail other management options including transportation for dealing with this resource, for which data from this analysis can be useful. The need for additional studies is highlighted to understand capacities and costs involved in developing this system while also considering resource conservation and environmental sustainability. Poster only
Savannah Wu New York City’s Circular Economy Transition: A Case Study in the Building Industry  Cities hold an important role for enabling the transition towards sustainable production and consumption of materials and resources. According to statistics provided by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs in 2018, not only is the urban population expected to reach 66% of total global population by 2050, but cities are also where 75% of the world’s natural resources are consumed. Today’s building industries have great opportunities to transform from a linear takemake- waste approach, to a more circular model in cities. This paper takes place in New York City’s building industry scene, for which we ask the following research question: What are the opportunities and challenges in enabling system-level transition towards circular buildings and construction practices in New York City? In particular, we examine how the principles of the circular economy could be operationalized using business model innovations, digital material identification and standardization schemes. We already hear about many circular innovations in the building industry, such as McKinsey & Company's report that in buildings, modular processes could lower construction costs by 50 percent compared with on-site traditional construction and that transparent data, industry signaling, and job site piloting can incentivize the use of healthier building materials and circular building processes. Taking into account these developments, we plan to first examine the city's history of building production and innovation and its waste management. We will conduct semistructured interviews with key stakeholders engaged in the Internet of Things for circular buildings and materials, building material producers, recyclers, non-profits, and governmental organizations. We aim to uncover (1) the roles of innovative business models, (2) how the production and end markets of buildings and their materials shape opportunities and challenges in achieving a circular building industry, and (3) the potential for increasing knowledge transparency, measurement, and accountability across the building supply chains in New York City and beyond. Keywords: Circular economy; Circular building; Internet of Things; Digital identification; Waste management Poster only