Dematerialisation study business case and benefits

Ruth Copeland-Phillips, Rebecca Colley

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned Reportpeer-review


This PolyCE deliverable, 8.3, presents the business case and benefits for dematerialisation and circular economy business models (CEBMs) for Electronic and Electrical Equipment (EEE) compared to traditional linear economy business models. EEE contains a complex mix of valuable metals, plastics and critical raw materials. While metals and electronic components are prioritized during recycling, plastics are often left in the background. Recommendations for changes in product design, and other operational issues, based on the dematerialisation trials, are compiled.

Circular economy business models offer the opportunity to manage valuable materials more effectively requiring a systematic transformation involving all actors in the value chain and encompassing the entire lifecycle of plastic materials. Key enablers and barriers to adopting CE business models were identified.

The research findings stemming from PolyCE’s Work Packages 1, 2,3, 7,8 and 9 indicate a slow but positive trend of transition from linear towards Circular Economy for businesses and consumers in the electronics sector and show positive economic and environmental benefits for adopting a more circular approach. The following research is the result of the cumulative work of the PolyCE project partners across all work packages. The findings from WP 1, 2, 3 and 9 along with supporting evidence from WP7 and the design and LCA findings from WP8 have been evaluated and used in presenting the advantages for a circular business case. Dematerialisation is delivering the same product or service using a percentage or none of the mass or material types. It is valuing what the product does rather than valuing the product itself. There are a few pathways to dematerialise a product:

● Digitise – sell the product electronically or virtually
● Servitise – sell the utility of the product as a service
● Reduction - absolute or relative reduction in the quantity or type of materials used and/or the
quantity of waste generated in the production of a unit of economic output

Within PolyCE we have looked at the reduction element of dematerialisation. PolyCE developed demonstrators to show the benefits of using high quality polymers from Post-Consumer Recycled WEEE plastics. The demonstrators highlighted in this deliverable are those developed for SME’s as WP1 (D1.2) identified that this was perceived as being the most difficult market to develop. The concept, design and function of the products were designed incorporating the guidelines developed by PolyCE, using mainly post-consumer recycled polymers (PCR) produced by PolyCE partner MGG, or post-industrial recycled polymers produced by Sitraplas, where use of PCRs was not possible. The PolyCE project examined the potential economic, environmental, and social benefits, to make the business case for the adoption of a circular economy approach.

Consideration of Life cycle analysis LCA including carbon, water and raw material savings, cost benefit analysis, product lifetime (compared to previous use and industry average), transport costs and an evaluation of potential market penetration have been conducted. Both quantitative and qualitative learnings from the research in previous work packages have been assessed.
Original languageEnglish
Commissioning bodyEuropean Commission
Number of pages43
Publication statusPublished - 31 Mar 2021


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