Key learnings from Combient Pure’s Circularity Development Program 2023

Key learnings from Combient Pure’s Circularity Development Program 2023

A whole year has gone by as we have deep dived into circularity in the technical building products industry. Together with ASSA ABLOY, KONE, Swegon and Vasakronan we have studied the numerous angles of circular economy and what it means on a company level. What have been the key learnings for us during the year? Read our summary.

Sprint 1: Understanding the customer

The program started with an overview of what the customers of technical building product manufacturers are looking for when it comes to circularity. In this case customers are not a homogenous group, but consist of e.g. construction companies, their subcontractors, architects, engineering companies, installation firms and property owners. The multitude of actors in the construction value chain also means that manufacturers cannot focus on a single customer group’s needs, but the expectations and needs that the whole value chain or loop has. As there are no shared standards for circularity yet, collaboration and communication between manufacturers and other value chain members is essential for creating circular solutions. 

As a result of the first sprint, after discussing with customers, the participating companies made a preliminary plan for which circularity aspects they want to focus on in the development program, as well as a draft for long-term goals.

Read more about the key insights of the sprint from a customer point of view from Claire Mirjolet, Project Leader at Vasakronan:

Sprint 2: Measuring impact

Our second sprint focused on different circularity measurement practices and on how they could be adapted and applied at the program’s participating companies. When studying the topic, it became clear that this field is still very novel and there are currently no standard measurement frameworks. Also circularity related data is usually not readily available in companies, and as with emission data, companies rely heavily on information from suppliers. In order to enhance product life extension or re-strategies, also product level data from installed products is needed from customers. This may be problematic if there is no service relationship with the customer beyond product sales or if the customer is not willing to share usage data. 

In the sprint, the participating companies recognized relevant KPIs and data needs for measuring their product level circularity.

Read more about the key insights of the sprint from Susanne Lundberg, Global Sustainable Products Manager at ASSA ABLOY:

Sprint 3: Dismantling and reverse logistics

The third sprint of the program looked at how the value of products could be maintained after their first use cycle. This is an interesting topic especially for the building sector, as technical products are usually installed for long lifetimes, but still need to be modernized, renewed or removed at some point in the future. Dismantling the products on site, transporting reusable parts to right sites and remanufacturing requires new types of internal capabilities and processes as well as new types of relationships with external stakeholders. In the best case such long-lasting products have been already designed with dismantling in mind, making it easier and cost efficient to take them back for repurposing. 

In the sprint, the participating companies mapped out what dismantling and take back could look like for them, and what type of stakeholders would be needed in the process.

Read more about the key insights of the sprint from Mari Lemberg, who works with circularity development and sustainability at KONE:

Sprint 4: Product life extension

After summer break our fourth sprint familiarized us with circular economy tactics that prolong product lifetimes. The participating companies studied different product lifetime extension tactics like reuse, refurbish, remanufacture and resell, and how adaptable these tactics would be for their product lines. In addition, we considered the crucial role of circular design as an enabler of these tactics. For this product group, also the role of digitization and data is key in detecting and predicting possibilities for maintenance, repair, optimization and modernization. Digital platforms for second hand markets and new EU-level regulation are expected to boost the lifetime extension of products. 

As a result of the sprint, each participating company drafted a lifetime extension plan for a chosen product and some already developed their concepts into concrete offerings.

Read more about the key insights of the sprint from Mirko Sauvan, Sustainability Manager at Swegon:

Sprint 5: Circular sourcing and procurement

Our fifth sprint focused on the value chain wide considerations of circularity for technical building products, and more specifically on sourcing circular inputs and other circularity related practices in procurement. Procurement is a key function for operationalizing and scaling many circular initiatives in companies, starting from utilizing more recycled materials in products all the way to enabling take-back systems for reusable products, parts and components. Driving circular procurement and sustainable sourcing practices requires a collaborative approach across the value chain and creates new types of relationships: customers become suppliers of used products. To enable the reuse, remanufacturing and recycling of technical building products, circular design is key - products should be designed for modularity and easy disassembly. 

With procurement professionals from the participating companies as sprint participants, we learned about the future of material flows, benchmarked leading sourcing practices for the manufacturing companies and studied how circular procurement can work in construction projects. The participating companies developed criteria and goals for circular procurement.

Read more about the key insights of the sprint from our blog post:

Sprint 6: Aligning internal processes

The final sprint supported the companies in scaling up their circularity work internally through the identification of obstacles and opportunities for developing circular processes, practices and competences. It is clear that the circular transformation is a large organizational change process, demanding a shift in organizational culture, capabilities, operations and ways of working. Collaboration across business units, functions and the value chain is essential. Organizations should bring together their top-down, leadership-led circularity strategies with the bottom-up, piloting based strategies to form a uniform, long-term vision for corporate circularity. 

As a result of this sprint, the participating companies drafted an internal circular economy roadmap for taking the learnings of this program forward in their organizations.

Read more about the key insights of this sprint from our blog post:

Read more about the key results of each of the companies from our press release:

If your company would be interested in accelerating circularity development with our program, please contact us at to hear more about how to join our program in 2024!

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