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Activating Circular Services in the Electric and Electronic Sector

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - C-SERVEES (Activating Circular Services in the Electric and Electronic Sector)

Reporting period: 2019-11-01 to 2021-04-30

WEEE (waste of electrical and electronic equipment) is one the fastest growing waste streams in the EU, with a generation of more than 12 million tonnes estimated for 2020. WEEE is a complex mixture of both valuable and hazardous materials and substances. The improvement of WEEE prevention, collection and recovery is essential for developing the circular economy and enhancing resource efficiency. This will require new approaches in the design, manufacturing, use and end of life of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE).

C-SERVEES is a four-year project, concluding in 2022, that aims to boost a resource-efficient circular economy in the electrical and electronic (E&E) sector through the development, testing, validation and transfer of new Circular Economic Business Models (CEBMs) based on systemic eco-innovative services that include: eco-leasing of EEE, product customization, improved WEEE management, and ICT services to support the other eco-services.

The techno-economic, environmental and social viability of the new CEBMs will be validated through demonstrations dealing with four target products belonging to different EEE categories: large household appliances, IT equipment, telecommunications equipment, and consumer equipment. These EEE categories together account for 77% of WEEE collected in the EU.

The main objectives of C-SERVEES are:
• Develop circular economic business models for the E&E sector
• Develop ICT tools for bidirectional communication and secure information exchange throughout the EEE value chain to support new business models
• Implement and validate the new circular economic business model
• Provide key enabling tools for boosting the replicability and transferability
• Maximise the innovation impacts of the project for contributing to the uptake of the project results for growth and jobs

The project will thus contribute to transform the E&E sector into circular and 4.0 raising new opportunities for end-users, such as their involvement in the design or their access to a product as a service, and for the social economy.
Throughout the first three years of the C-SERVEES, several relevant results have been achieved.

The circular economic business reference model for the E&E sector (REF-CIRCMODE) developed during the first period, was used as a mapping framework to develop, review and validate the four C-SERVEES target products’ circular economy business models (CIRCMODEs): WASH-CIRCMODE, PRINT-CIRCMODE, ALM-CIRMODE and TV-CIRMODE.

The project ICT tools, meant to enable the bidirectional communication and secure information exchange throughout the EEE value chain to support the new business models, were developed and deployed. Based on the assessment of stakeholders needs to determine the ICT tools and functionalities needed by the industry and recycling partners during the first period, the full development of the ICT tools was carried out during the second one. C-SERVEES ICT system is built up by three ICT platforms, which were developed and integrated: the Digital Twin and Smart Questioning systems, which is the underlying system, the Information Exchange Platform and the Logistic Platform.

As for the demonstrations activities, which aim at showing how the new CEBMs and eco-services can be implemented and behave in the E&E sector, a baseline was initially set for each target product and, after the definition of the specific innovation activities to be implemented in each demonstration (selected in the validation process of the product-specific CIRCMODEs developed, in accordance with the manufacturer’s priorities and needs), the implementation of the first set of eco-innovation actions related to the Design & Production phase was finalised. After that, the partners started working on the implementation of eco-innovation activities related to the Distribution & Use phase.

Alternatively, the life cycle sustainability assessment of each target product under the conventional scenario (linear economy models) was completed by means of life cycle sustainability assessment tools, including environmental life cycle assessment (LCA), life cycle costing (LCC) and social life cycle assessment (S-LCA). These results constitute the sustainability baseline against which to compare the life cycle sustainability assessment for the improved products and new circular business models, which already started at the end of the second period and will run in parallel to the demonstration actions.

On another hand, a market analysis for each target product was developed. Additionally, the consortium regularly updated their exploitation plan and the IPR, Dissemination & Exploitation Board (IPREB) constituted during the first period has periodically met. The data management plan of the project initially developed was also regularly updated.

Many activities were performed following the project communication and dissemination strategy, aiming also at engaging stakeholders in the C-SERVEES network. In addition, an external Advisory Board with representatives from different stakeholder groups was set up in the first period and has interacted with the consortium in specific activities. Among other activities, the project was disseminated through social media (Twitter and LinkedIn), publications/workshops in relevant EEE-related events, paper publication in the Journal of Cleaner Production, project presentations in Europe and worldwide events, 4 online newsletters and dissemination material.
The E&E sector has not undertaken the changes required at the business model level for a true transition to circular economy. C-SERVEES will make significant progress beyond the state of the art in circular economy in the E&E sector at different levels:

Circular economy knowledge and practice
New circular economy business models (CEBM), including a reference business model for the E&E sector and specific business models for each target product.

Eco-design of EEE
Systematic implementation of ecodesign in the E&E sector through a strong cooperation between all actors in the value chain, with no significant losses of performance for consumers.

EEE eco-leasing
Development of EEE eco-leasing services through the transition of product ownership structures towards an increased producer responsibility model.

WEEE re-use and remanufacturing
Improved closed-loop supply chains to manage WEEE, including the use of ICT tools and user involvement (via living labs).

WEEE recycling
Improvement of current WEEE treatment practices to enable a recycling of plastics and other critical materials present in WEEE.

ICT services
New ICT solutions will be provided for secure information exchange throughout value chains.

C-SERVEES will have a clear impact the circular economy in the E&E sector, by setting the foundations for realistic market-ready solutions. It will allow obtaining economic benefits for the EEE producers and other actors in the EEE value chain, as well as resulting in beneficial impacts not only for the environment but also for the EU society by creating green employment.
The project will result in an estimated economic benefit of 122.08 M€ over the period 2022-2026, which, considering the project budget (7.93 M€), yields a ROI~15,3. It will generate in the mid-term an economic benefit of 26.31 M€/year, with about 381 green employments (including direct and indirect jobs) and a total reduction of 2,663 tonnes CO2 eq/year.
Schematic overview of C-SERVEES project