Digital Innovation for a Circular Economy

September 4th, 2019

From computers, information technologies, databases and internet to blockchains, robotics and artificial intelligence, the digital technologies can help create the next industrial disruption towards the circular economy. CSIRO is enabling a circular economy through the development of digital platforms that will help close material loops, optimise processes and transactions, minimise waste and maximise resource efficiency.

Information Sharing

Availability of information is important to enabling the circular economy. A data platform can harmonise the digital technologies used at different stages of a product life cycle – from conception to end of life. In addition, interoperability of these tools for information sharing can help track the life of a product and enable circularity. Our open data platform as well as waste match-making platform like ASPIRE are enabling sharing of data among different parts of supply chains.

Imagine tagging a product and its component when produced and using the information to automatically identify and separate the product at the waste disposal centre. Product passport is envisaged to achieve this. In addition to circularity, a similar technique can be useful in the traceability of a product as well. Several projects under CSIRO Data61 the Supply Chain Provenance and Blockchain researches are making traceability possible.

While having traceability is important, CSIRO Data61 also developing technologies to enable data analytics without compromising privacy and confidentiality. Moreover, our sensitive data analytics platforms like Data Airlock are enabling analytics of sensitive data. In addition, our research in cybersecurity is important to ensure trust in the information sharing platforms necessary for the circular economy.

Predictive Maintenance

Predictive analytics has often been used in high-value products and services. For example, Data61’s research in predictive maintenance, a specialised branch of predictive analytics, currently focuses on high-value assets (e.g. Sydney harbour bridge, Sydney water pipeline). Although fundamental principles of predictive analytics remain the same, its application in different provision areas (e.g. food, energy, water etc) remains less understood. Moreover, user-friendly and cost-effective platformisation of such analytics is necessary for applications in seemingly less valuable products. Data61 researchers are partnering with multi-domain researchers to create a breakthrough in an effective translation of predictive analytics principles into circular economy practices.

Automation

Urban mining faces two major barriers: contamination and disorderly jumble. Although online tools are available to track hazardous chemicals, these tools cannot ascertain if hazardous materials are indeed absent from a waste collection. Data61 works in sensor technologies to apply and invent sensor technologies for resource planning as well as platforms like Seneps for analytics of sensor data in real-time. that can effectively and quickly detect the presence of such contaminations. Our AI/ML and Robotics researches have the potential for identification, separation and extraction of useful material from the disorderly jumble of waste at the landfill sites.