Combining Circular Economy Principles and Industry 4.0 Leads to Increased Sustainability

published Nov 22, 2021
2 min read

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is digital, and many professionals evaluate the benefits of the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart technology for emission reduction. The industrial sector can significantly minimize ecological degradation by monitoring and restricting its energy use.

Industry 4.0 supports the circular economy, additionally reducing adverse environmental effects. It also aids the Biden administration’s Build Back Better plan that’s aimed at helping America achieve its carbon-neutrality goal. Implementing smart technology in the industrial sector can significantly reduce atmospheric and surface-level waste, improving ecological conditions.

Clean Energy

The Demand for Industrial Sustainability Enhancements

A significant portion of material waste and air pollution derives from human error. If construction professionals damage building materials or heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system professionals inefficiently install devices, they increase manufacturing pollution and energy loss.

The disconnection of devices in different industries also decreases power efficiency levels. IoT helps systems, meters, monitors, cameras and controls connect seamlessly in real-time, reducing error and energy loss. Smart tech researchers expect IoT to increase systems’ power efficiency by eight times in the next decade.

Additionally, industry 4.0 advancements support the circular economy by reducing material waste. Lowering pollution levels increases the opportunity for reuse, improving suitability and minimizing adverse mining effects.

Support for the Circular Economy Model

Industry 4.0 enhances the circular economy model by exploring ways to reduce waste and improve sustainability efforts. Smart devices help companies expand their knowledge of an asset’s location. If a system, machine or worker strays from the most efficient path, managers can reroute it or them in real-time to reduce unnecessary emissions.

IoT can also track the condition of an asset, repairing efficiency-degrading errors before significant damage occurs. For example, some oil companies use smart pipeline devices to monitor and detect leaks, reducing surface-level pollution. Renewable energy systems can additionally utilize IoT to track electricity production and support storage and reuse.

Industry 4.0 also helps businesses explore an asset’s availability. They can track production rates and the recyclability levels of materials, exploring the efficiency of manufacturing. These features of IoT relating to the circular economy can significantly enhance a company’s eco-consciousness.

Sustainability Features of Industry 4.0 and the Circular Economy

Nearly 23% of America’s emissions come from the industrial sector. Manufacturing processes, material mining, construction and distribution contribute to energy-related greenhouse gases. Excessive emissions alter the atmosphere’s composition, limiting its ability to produce life-sufficient temperatures on Earth’s surface.

Industrial 4.0 minimizes the enhanced greenhouse effect by reducing energy use and emissions. It also minimizes material production demands, which reduces mining and manufacturing pollution. Limiting the need for new materials additionally supports recycling practices.

Digitalization helps companies reduce their reliance on material goods. They can meet their minimal demands using repurposed metals like copper and stainless steel. Both metals maintain their structural efficiency and quality over time, helping individuals recycle them indefinitely.

Companies can additionally use recycled metals to produce smart technological devices, shrinking IoT’s carbon footprint. When individuals use repurposed materials, they support industry 4.0 and the circular economy. Relying on one product indefinitely, instead of harmful mining practices, reduces production waste and landfill pollution.

Additional Benefits of Adopting IoT

Businesses also experience other benefits when adopting smart technology. IoT improves the energy efficiency of modern systems, especially integrated versions, shrinking one’s utility bill. Companies can increase their savings over time when utilizing smart devices and the circular economy model.

They can also increase their technology’s compatibility with renewable energy sources, further decreasing energy costs and emissions. IoT additionally helps companies meet eco-consumer demands. When they invest in smart devices, they can shrink their carbon footprints, achieving eco-friendly labels and statuses.

Generation Z and millennial consumers search for sustainable companies to minimize the impact of their purchases. Businesses can rise above competitors in the market by using efficiency-enhancing technology.

Opening Opportunities by Closing the Loop

Companies can increase their support for a sustainable economy by investing in smart technology today. Individuals may access the most efficient industry 4.0 devices by determining the level of monitoring needed for their systems. Small storefronts going digital may start by installing a smart point of sales system or thermostat, decreasing their energy use.

Larger organizations like city waste management groups may install various IoT devices throughout a region using monitors, cameras, quality control testers and more. Companies should set budgets and receive an energy audit before adopting smart technology. After individuals install their compatible industry 4.0 systems, they can access the environmental and economic benefits.

Emily Newton
Emily Newton is a manufacturing journalist who regularly covers the industry trends. She is also the Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized. Subscribe to read more from Emily.