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At the fifth annual VDMA Future Business Summit, experts from the worlds of industry and science outlined their predictions for the future of the digital circular economy. Efficient reuse of prepared resources may make industrial companies less dependent on the raw materials market, the experts say. However, these companies currently recycle only 14% of the raw materials they use and have taken too few measures to prepare, repair and reuse resources.

Many new technologies, such as self-repair processes and removal or sorting processes, are already available, according to the summit. However, there is a lack of scalable process technologies and established quality standards for secondary raw materials. It was also stated that costs are still much too high. Industry 4.0 and Big Data may, however, present a foundation for further optimization and thus a catalyst for a circular economy that encompasses the entire value-creation chain – for example, through automated market and logistics platforms or data gathering regarding the composition of recycled materials and how to market them.