In this PhD research project, we set out to explore the seemingly nascent field of Circular Business Models which build on the principles set out by the concept and vision of a Circular Economy. Though it is a novel topic in mainstream academia, circularity is a pre-industrial principle of resource efficiency. It is a topic which has received a lot of attention in the past years from legislators, academics, and business, as well as influencing many people’s choice of lifestyle. The Circular Economy is generally interpreted as the paradigm that the global society should transition into to eradicate human suffering due to climate change, pollution, loss of biodiversity and landscapes, as well as socio-economic injustices. The basic rules of the Circular Economy is to stop the extraction of virgin and nonrenewable resources from nature and use the resources already circulating in the economy to meet society’s needs; and contribute to regenerating the environment. We do this already to some extent by recycling materials, using renewable energy sources and materials, designing products that last for a long time, can be repaired, and upgraded. But it is only a small part of our economy which has been able to operate according to some of these circular principles, and an even smaller part which can be considered fully circular. For a business, creating or transitioning into a fully-fledged Circular Business Model can feel like swimming against the current, thus it directly challenges the still prevalent logic of fast consumption – the most problematic characteristic of the still dominant Linear Economy – to face this challenge we need to re-think business.
In this PhD project, the student will specifically investigate the industry which produces and delivers medical equipment and products. This provides an interesting context, seeing that it is a heavily regulated industry with a widespread network of different actors, which means that there are particular challenges but also opportunities to enact circular principles.