The contribution of patenting to a circular economy: How patents on waste management influence resource efficiency and waste reduction
Zwart, R. de
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The concept of circular economy is one of the main solutions to achieve a sustainable future. However, while most countries have taken steps towards a circular economy, more progress needs to be made. Patenting activities on waste management technologies show promise to contribute to the transition towards a circular economy since patents indicate innovating and sharing knowledge. Therefore the contribution of patenting to circular economy progress needed to be analysed. To achieve this, this research has answered the research question: How does patenting in waste management contribute towards circular economy progress? This question is answered by comparing patent data to circular economy indicators resource efficiency and waste reduction. Within the patent data, a distinguishing between patent count, radicalness and technical relevance of patents on waste management is made. Correlation and regression analyses are used to find a relation between the patent data and circular economy indicators. Results indicate, however, that on a global scale patents currently do not lead to circular economy progress. However, evidence has been found that under the right circumstances patents can contribute. In this case, patents protecting radically new technologies conduce more than patents protecting incremental innovation. Based on the findings useful policy recommendations, such as a focus on collaboration and patenting strategies, are provided to governments to reach the circumstances in which the current patenting activities will contribute in transitioning to a circular economy.