New technologies for the circular economy: merging business models with ecoinnovations to improve productivity and minimise waste, as well as to create knowledge and use it (PRA 2)

Circular economy has one of the highest priorities in sustainable development in both Poland and the European Union. This constitutes an alternative to the traditional linear economy (take-make-dispose). Circular economy aims to maintain the value of products, materials, and resources in economic loops as long as possible; moreover, its goal is to minimise waste production, creating economic, social, and environmental benefits. The most important prerequisite for introducing circular economy is to preserve the value of materials. Recycling of materials and products does not occur only when their life cycle ends, but must be considered from the very beginning of the process, even at the stage of design. The key role in product design, in turn, falls to the selection of materials, underpinned by materials science, including studies in the fields of molecular biology and polymer chemistry. Optimal waste processing technologies facilitate the re-introduction of materials to the market. Business models that replace ownership with subscription contribute to the increase in value of reusable products. Prioritising the idea of accessibility over possession makes it possible to move the main focus from consumers to users.

To initiate transformation towards circular economy, the need for cooperation of various specialists emerges, as well as the necessity to carry out research in multiple disciplines concurrently. Therefore, within PRA 2, interdisciplinary research is conducted by specialists in engineering and technical fields, that is, primarily in the following disciplines: environmental engineering, mining and power engineering, materials engineering, chemical engineering, civil engineering and transport; as well as in the field of social sciences: management and quality sciences and economy and finance.