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Circular economy project examples

Circular Economy examples

Michelin’s TREC (Tire Recycling) project

Michelin led a tire recycling project (source: in collaboration with CEA, Protéus (PCAS) and SDTech. This project, called TREC, was launched in 2014. The TREC project develops two different usages for used tires. The first one is called TREC Regeneration, and consists in regenerating rubber compounds to manufacture new tires. The second one is called TREC Alcohol, and enables the production of a chemical intermediate product needed to synthesize raw materials used in the manufacturing process.

The following figure illustrates the processes for these two projects (source:

Michelin’s TREC (Tire Recycling) project (

Renault’s circular economy process

In order to transform end-to-life parts and vehicles into a resource for the production and maintenance of vehicles, Renault implements circular economy technologies (source: By doing this throughout the various stages of its products life cycle, Renault aims at reducing its consumption of raw materials.

The following figure illustrates the different stages of production in which circular economy technologies intervene (source:

Renault’s circular economy process

Kalundborg Symbiosis

The Kalundborg Symbiosis (source: is a partnership between twelve public and private companies in Kalundborg. This partnership was developed in 1972 and is considered to be the world’s first industrial symbiosis with a circular approach to production.

The main principle of Kalundborg Symbiosis is that a waste stream from one plant becomes a resource to an other plant , thereby benefiting both the environment and the economy. The following figure illustrates the different partnerships in Kalundborg Symbiosis and the different residues they exchange.

The Kalundborg Symbiosis (source:

The benefits of industrial symbiosis are:

  • Reductions in costs and emissions
  • Growth for less resources
  • More competitive and more resilient enterprises


deClique collects food by-products such as coffee grounds, orange peels and other food waste from businesses, using cycle couriers and electric vehicles. These by-products are then sold to third party innovators and product manufacturers, who transform them into new products like food ingredients, cosmetics, and biomaterials  (source:

The following figures show the circular coffee ground and orange peels recycling path.

deCLIQUE coffee ground recycling path
deCLIQUE orange peels recycling path

Tomra R1

Tomra R1 is Tomra’s innovation in reverse vending. It enables customers to return in over 100 empty beverage containers in one go in order to recycle them. This allows a much faster recycling experience. When customers return their containers, they gain vouchers that they can use for shopping.  

The following figure illustrates Tomra’s circular pathway for recycling beverage containers (source:

Tomra’s circular pathway for recycling beverage containers

Veolia’s steam iron from recycled plastics

Veolia, in collaboration with SEB (household appliances manufacturer), designed a steam iron made of 50% recycled plastic. This was considered to be a first in France for small household goods (source:

Veolia’s circular path for steam iron manufacturing


The NEW KNAUF-VEOLIA Insulation partnership enables the transformation of more than 60000 tonnes per year of used glass bottles into energy saving insulation material.

The following figure shows the circular pathway of the insulation project.

KNAUF circular pathway for insulation material

Umicore circular economy actions

Umicore is a Belgian company that is present in twelve countries. Umicore produces and recycles non-ferrous  materials. This company routinely recycles products such as batteries. It is also involved in waste treatment from refineries or metal industries (e.g. cobalt, nickel, tungsten or antimony) in order to reduce harmful emissions to the environment (source:

The following figure shows Umicore’s circular pathway in recycling batteries (source:

Umicore’s circular pathway for batteries (source:

Volkswagen closed-loop battery recycling

Volkswagen Group has deployed efforts and researched ways to recover valuable raw materials such as nickel, manganese, cobalt and lithium, since these four raw materials extraction and use are crucial for a company’s carbon footprint. In this perspective, the Volkswagen Group will assume overall responsibility for its e-mobility of the future and developed a closed loop process for recycling batteries (source:

The following figure shows the closed loop battery recycling by Volkswagen.

Enerkem circular economy action

Enerkem is a Canadian firm that has developed a recycling technology which chemically recycles the biogenic and non-biogenic carbon contained in non-recyclable waste and residues into a gas. This gas in turn can be used to make biofuels like methanol and ethanol, as well as chemicals that can be used in numerous everyday products. This is done through a waste conversion process. First the carbon is transformed into a pure synthesis gas (“syngas”). The syngas is then converted into biofuels and renewable chemicals, using commercially available catalysts.

This technology helps avoiding emissions from landfills and incineration plants. The following figure illustrates the different stages of this process (source:

Enerkem recycling technology for biogenic and non-biogenic carbon

Enerkem has also collaborated with NOVA Chemicals in order to explore turning non-recyclable and non-compostable municipal waste into ethylene, as shown in the following circular pathway (source:

Enerkem & NOVA Chemicals circular pathway for Plastics Recycling



Acknowledgment : This Section was prepared using material gathered and synthesized from Internet Sources by Nassima MOUMNI (Ingénieur Polytechnique Alger).