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Acceleration of circular economy in EU's automotive industry

Del Angel Hernandez, Monica; Bakthavatchaalam, Venkat

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Monica Del Angel Hernandez


The world is facing an environmental crisis driven by unsustainable industrial practices, with the automotive industries reported as being one of the main contributors, thus requiring a radical shift on the way they perform business-as-usual activities (UNFCCC, 2019). The UN and a growing number of literature hail Circular Economy (CE) as a holistic economic model that is expected to minimise human’s impact on the environment and the resources (UN, 2021; Desing et al., 2020)
Thus, this research explores the adoption of CE by the European automotive industries. Even though this sector acknowledges the importance of resource-neutral designs and becoming circular, there is strong evidence that CE is yet to be understood, slowing the implementation down (Schulz et al., 2021; Kumar et al., 2019). Hence, this research aims to provide a set of recommendations to the automotive supply-chain (SC) to accelerate the adoption of CE. It categorises the accelerating factors to provide a novel approach for the automotive sector to transform in a faster pace to become a thriving and sustainable industry. It addresses SDG 8,9 and 12.
Data was collected through 12 semi-structured interviews with stakeholders from automotive and sustainability sector to understand the context of potentially unexplored factors affecting the automotive SC. Content analysis revealed a set of 13 relevant categories for the creation of an acceleration model.
Main results:
The results showed a plethora of factors that together and individually influence automotive sector’s transition to CE. The main contribution of this study is the development of a model that categorised the factors into transitioning, accelerating and boosting towards CE. Few of the roadblocks include complex logistics, economic considerations, lack of innovative solutions, technology and a visionary leadership. Challenges for acceleration include adaptation of the industry to social diversity, creating a standardised tool for measuring CE, generational mindset, other industries’ engagement etc. Accelerating and boosting factors are building an expertise in CE, redefining of business model, value, design and the concept of luxury in automotive. The research makes recommendations and develops a model for the automotive industries and entrepreneurs to adopt in accelerating the adoption of CE.


Del Angel Hernandez, M., & Bakthavatchaalam, V. (2022, May). Acceleration of circular economy in EU's automotive industry. Paper presented at United Nations University: Nexus Conference, Dresden

Presentation Conference Type Conference Paper (unpublished)
Conference Name United Nations University: Nexus Conference
Conference Location Dresden
Start Date May 23, 2022
End Date May 25, 2022
Deposit Date Jun 24, 2022
Publicly Available Date Jun 24, 2022
Keywords circular economy; EU; European Union; automotive industry
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