In the face of escalating environmental pressures, the logistics and supply chain management industry sectors have recognized the transformative potential of the circular economy. Unlike a traditional linear model, circular economy business models aim to eliminate waste, circulate products through upcycling and remanufacturing, and regenerate nature. Companies embracing circular business models have showcased their resilience during challenging times, such as the pandemic, and demonstrated reduced vulnerability to supply chain disruptions. This article explores the emerging technology trends and business models driving the circular economy in the logistics and supply chain management industry sectors.

circular economy

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Recycling as a Service (RaaS)

Recycling as a Service (RaaS) has emerged as a solution to tackle waste management challenges. RaaS platforms connect waste generators with recycling facilities, enabling efficient and optimized waste collection and processing. By leveraging digital platforms and data analytics, RaaS providers like RecycleSmart streamline the recycling process, ensuring materials are diverted from landfills and transformed into valuable resources. This model enhances sustainability and offers cost savings and operational efficiencies for businesses.

Digital Tracking and Traceability Systems

Blockchain and other digital tracking systems provide transparency and accountability within supply chains, paving the way for sustainable sourcing and distribution practices. Startups leveraging these technologies enable real-time tracking and verification of product origins, quality, and environmental impact. For instance, companies like Portcast utilize AI-powered predictive analysis to ensure traceability and ethical sourcing of raw materials, building client trust and facilitating informed purchasing decisions.

Sharing Economy Logistics

Sharing economy logistics disrupt traditional models by promoting shared resources and collaborative networks. Through circular logistics platforms, companies can pool warehousing, transportation, and distribution capacities, resulting in reduced delivery vehicles on the road, improved efficiency, and lower emissions. Startups like Flock Freight optimize truckload shipments by consolidating multiple orders, while Matternet leverages drone technology to enable efficient and sustainable last-mile deliveries.

Product as a Service (PaaS)

Product as a Service (PaaS) is a business model that shifts the focus from selling products to offering access to products on a subscription or leasing basis. This model allows manufacturers to extend the lifespan of their products, improve resource efficiency, and establish recurring revenue streams. Locus Robots is an example of a startup offering Robots as a Service with an innovative, subscription-based program that makes it easy to add and scale powerful autonomous mobile robotics to a large warehouse operation.

Reverse Logistics

Reverse logistics involves collecting and reintegrating used products back into the supply chain for repair, refurbishment, or recycling. Startups like Returnly and Happy Returns specialize in reverse logistics, reengineering the return process with the customer in mind, ensuring efficient collection, sorting, and disposal of returned products. This approach enhances supply chain efficiency, reduces cost, and contributes to better customer satisfaction and a more circular economy.

Circular Procurement

Circular procurement integrates circular design principles and end-of-life considerations into the procurement process. Startups like Circulor and Provenance provide solutions that enable supply chain transparency, verify sustainable sourcing, and support the evaluation of environmental and social impact throughout the product lifecycle. By prioritizing circular procurement, companies can foster sustainable supply chains and drive positive environmental change.


Remanufacturing involves the process of refurbishing used products into new ones, extending their life and reducing waste. US-based startup Turbo Solutions remanufactures turbochargers for heavy vehicles that follow International Organization for Standardization (ISO) principles, creating new revenue streams while disrupting linear supply chains.

Collaborative Logistics Networks

Collaborative logistics networks encourage the sharing of resources, such as warehouses, trucks, and labor, among multiple companies. By pooling and optimizing resources, startups like Loadsmart and Flexe reduce inefficiencies and waste in the supply chain. These platforms enable businesses to tap into underutilized capacities, achieving cost savings, improving operational efficiency, and minimizing environmental impact.


Upcycling involves transforming waste materials into higher-value products through innovative processes and design. Startups like Terracycle and Pentatonic specialize in upcycling, repurposing materials such as plastics and textiles to create new products. By diverting waste from landfills and minimizing resource consumption, upcycling offers a sustainable and economically viable solution, promoting the circular economy.

Circular Business Models for E-commerce

Circular business models in e-commerce emphasize optimizing packaging, offering sustainable delivery options, and promoting circular product offerings. Startups like Loop and TerraCycle provide reusable packaging solutions, reducing single-use waste. 

The logistics and supply chain management industry sectors are at the forefront of embracing the circular economy, leveraging innovative technologies and business models to achieve sustainability and resilience. Startups are driving positive change while offering new opportunities for resource efficiency, waste reduction, and environmental stewardship. By embracing these trends, decision-makers in the logistics and supply chain management industry sectors can unlock sustainable growth, minimize environmental impact, and thrive in an increasingly circular future. 

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