Leveraging AI in a circular economy can drastically speed up our efforts for a sustainable economic system fit for our future.
A circular economy is an economic system in which the value of materials are kept at their highest, wastage is minimized, and renewable sources are used to the maximum. The advantages of a circular economy over a linear one are substantial as it reduces our dependence on the environment, improves the value of materials while stimulating innovation and boosting economic growth. Research has shown that a circular economy in Europe can generate cost savings of USD 669 billion a year alone, by 2030. Advanced technologies like artificial intelligence can play a huge role in aiding our shift towards a circular economy for smart cities. The use of AI in a circular economy will not only accelerate our efforts but also pave the way for advanced sustainable methods. This will significantly magnify the benefits of a circular economy and also enhance the functioning of smart cities.
How AI Can Build a Circular Economy in Smart Cities
AI can be used to greatly enhance the 3-R principle on which a circular economy operates: reduce, reuse, and recycle. AI can be leveraged in sectors such as manufacturing, retail, agriculture, and the food industry, to name a few. Here’s how AI and circular economy can help in building a smart city.
Reducing with AI
Artificial intelligence technologies can be used to reduce the materials used in the production and manufacturing stage. AI algorithms can be used to determine the quantity of raw materials required and ensure that the materials are used to a maximum extent, minimizing wastage. This can see a wide application in manufacturing industries such as clothing, machinery, and automobile. Proper utilization of raw materials can help bring down the input costs and, ultimately, the retail price of the products.
Reusing with AI
Most products today have a short life span or are discarded early due to consumerism. However, most of the discarded products can be reused and can aid in our efforts for sustainability. AI can be best put to use in the clothing retail industry. AI algorithms can be used to scan and evaluate the unwanted clothing people put up for resale on an online platform. They can then be sold on to secondary markets at a fair price.
Recycling with AI
Artificial intelligence can help in our efforts for waste management and can assist in determining the best ways to segregate, disassemble, and recycle products. This helps to close the loop of a circular economy. For example, artificial intelligence can be used in the electronics industry to scan and sort materials of discarded electronic products. The process of recycling products in an efficient manner can be automated by using artificial intelligence technology. The products can then be re-used in the manufacturing of new products.
The current linear economy system has exploited the available resources extensively. It has led to a take-make-dispose mentality. The concept of a circular economy, on the other hand, is based on the principle of effectively using the resources available to us. The use of AI will act as an added advantage, and here’s hoping that the use of AI in a circular economy becomes the driving force towards a cleaner, sustainable, and less wasteful future.