Woman taking photo on smart at night with city background

Circular economy is key to the industry of the future

Industry 4.0, Sustainability


Circular Economy

Agri-food, energy, water, metalwork or mechanical industry or mold industry. All these sectors face the challenge of sustainability, but also of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. This is in addition to the requirement of efficiency, productivity and, consequently, competitiveness. For all these challenges there is an increasingly important response: the circular economy.

Circular economy is key to the industry of the future

Aware that the sustainability of the industry of the future will be greatly related to the progress of the circular economy, its business models and, above all, the success of its implementation in companies, ISQ has been dedicated to this theme in recent years.

The focus has been on the development of Research & Development and Innovation (R&Di) projects and the provision of a diverse set of services that enable organizations to support organizations in implementing the various strategies and models of circular economy, particularly focused on smart production and use.

In this task, information technologies and industry 4.0 make fundamental contributions to the creation of more sustainable products and industries. And also in this area, ISQ has been developing solutions for efficient use of resources based on intelligent digital methods, combining modeling, predictive analysis, machine learning and optimization algorithms to support decision making.

There are several areas that have benefited from the application of digital technologies to increase the sustainability of industrial processes.

The SWSS – Smart Water Supply System optimizer is a good example, showing how it is possible to optimize the planning of water supply system operations, particularly with regard to reducing the energy consumption of pumping systems.

LIFE SWSS – Smart Water Supply System

Led by ISQ, the project aims to demonstrate an innovative digital management and decision-making platform that, through simulation, forecasting and optimization models, supports the operation of Water Supply Systems (SDA). LIFE SWSS aims to address the problem of the efficiency of water supply networks, which causes significant impacts due to the huge amount of energy consumed, the associated GHG emissions and water leakage.

agua consumo

The role of laboratories and training

In addition to R&Di and consulting activities, ISQ laboratories have taken an important role in the area of circular economics, with emphasis on the Chemistry and Environment Laboratory. Through the specialized work of this unit, it is possible to carry out environmental control and monitoring, legal compliance support or material characterization to support efficient resource management. This is the case of agricultural soil analyses and leaf analyses to assist the sector in the most efficient management of water and fertilizer use.

Recognising that the circular economy will also have significant impacts on new skills and qualifications, ISQ’s commitment to the area also covers training activity. Currently being the second largest player in Portugal in continuous training and having experience in creating professional profiles and national quality references for vocational education and training, ISQ is participating in two European projects: CIR-ECO and CIRCULINK. The first aims at the small appliances sector, identifying, describing and developing professional profiles that will be necessary to make circularity a reality in this sector. The second aims to encourage individuals, groups and organizations to learn more about circular collaboration management and to understand how to increase the implementation of circular economy practices in SMEs.

The involvement of several areas in the challenge of bringing circular economy solutions to companies and organizations, as well as the various years of work and experience in this field have given ISQ a major role.

ISQ is renowned for its extensive experience in R&Di projects and for having a national and international network of partnerships. It is also highlighted by the multidisciplinarity of the teams, predominantly the basic training in Engineering, and for the competencies in energy efficiency and resources, namely environment and materials. These are added value that support organisations by following national and European policies and strategies, technological trends and, from a more macro perspective, the Sustainable Development Goals.


Master in Chemical and Biological Engineering with Post-Graduation in Environmental Management Systems. 20 years of experience in consulting and R&D activities in the areas of environment, sustainability and integrated pollution prevention and control. Currently working as Program Manager for R&D + i, promoting and participating in R&D projects in the areas of resource efficiency, circular economy and industrial symbiosis.

related insights

more topics

Aeronautic/Aerospace (6) Agriculture and Agribusiness (1) Digital Transformation (2) Health and Life Sciences (3) Hydrogen (3) Industry 4.0 (3) Innovation (4) Renewable energy (6) Sustainability (12) Tourism (1)

+ insight

be an insider

insights delivered to you

Privacy Policy


As a project initiated by ISQ, insight is open to contributions from everyone who wants to participate and who can bring their vision, scientific studies and reasoned opinion to enrich the themes and the debate.

If your activity is linked to research or the analysis and implementation of measures in the topics discussed here, please contact us using the form attached.