How could a SME supplier's value chain be evaluated by circular production principles?
Paper in proceeding, 2022
Increased demands for circularity in manufacturing industry put pressure on transformation in order to meet the Sustainable Development Goals. Small-and-medium-sized-enterprises (SME)'s have an important role, supplying value chains with material and components for larger companies and original-equipment-manufacturers (OEMs). SME suppliers' net environmental footprint contributes to the OEM's overall footprint, however, SME suppliers are characterized by limited resources and competence to perform circularity activities. SME net environmental footprint consists of both production related targets combined with product related targets. Circular product performance evaluation have raised a demand for easy-to-use, self-assisting tools as a complement or substitute for standardised life-cycle-assessment (LCA) methods, often considered as costly with advanced calculations, and highlights the need for the development of accessible tools and guides that support the SMEs' circularity work. An established industrial tool based on previous research called the Green Performance Map (GPM), has successfully been used to assist circularity performance in production operations. This paper sets out to test the GPM tool in a new setting, addressing circularity in an extended value chain context, including three main areas; production and sourcing, product use and product end-of-life. The research presented is based on an in-depth case study with an interactive research approach and aims to explore how to reach a full value chain perspective on circularity in production. The result indicates that a joint and inclusive collaboration centred on the adapted GPM-tool, identifies and structures circular production principles as well as product use and end-of-life performance as a basis for evaluation. Findings from research study show that a comprehensive input-output tool could be used with limited competence and time, achieve increased employee awareness of circularity in the product value chain. This single case study brings a small empirical contribution to existing literature on SME circular production transformation, however it clearly shows on the urgency to evaluate circularity along the value chain in order to support a full industrial circular production transformation.