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Decoupling 2030:
Denmark Leads The Way to Sustainable Production

By 2030, more than 4,000 Danish production companies must have started their sustainable and circular transition – the key lies in the value chains

This project is a part of our theme
Green transition

Do you want to reach or surpass your sustainability goals by becoming part of Decoupling 2030?

Right now, we are interviewing companies with strong sustainability ambitions. If you want to understand how Decoupling 2030 can help you reach or surpass your sustainability ambitions and increase your understanding of working with Scope 3, please contact Julie Hjort at

The Danish production sector holds tremendous potential. Developing sustainable and circular processes and value chain leads to a future-proof environment and climate, but also new markets and lasting businesses that remain competitive.

The industry’s overall climate and environmental impact must be reduced. That’s a fixed task – regardless of how the economic growth goes. This is called absolute decoupling. But to succeed, sustainability must be at the heart of the individual company’s strategy and business model – and go right into the production and value chains. This is the mission of Decoupling 2030.

We are part of the partner group of the ambitious and long-term program, which, after a pilot project in 2022, is now being scaled to an eight-year effort. The Danish Industry Foundation supports the project.

The Challenge: Becoming a truly sustainable and circular company

The Danish production companies are essential in transitioning to a sustainable, circular, and competitive society. But only 10-16 percent of the companies work dedicatedly with the sustainable and circular transition (source: REGLAB: SME’s Cooperation on Green Transition). And only four percent document the work with the transition in scope 3 (source: Dansk Erhverv).

Scope 3 is indirect emissions – also called value chain emissions. They make up around 90 percent of a company’s total emissions. Because they occur in the value chains outside the direct influence of the company, they are often the most difficult for companies to map and influence (source: REGLAB). It is, therefore, also by restructuring the value chains that a sustainable industry becomes truly scalable and competitive (see an example with REMA 1000 here). 

On top of the stated numbers, the partner group identified some main transition challenges for the production sector during the pilot project:

  • Lack of knowledge and competencies concerning sustainability and circular economy
  • Lack of collaboration across the value chains
  • Lack of time to test and develop sustainable and circular solutions (both processes and business models)
  • Lack of flexibility and longterm help in the available and existing programs
  • Lack of use of data and technology
  • Lack of overall and gathered support across the ecosystem, which must help the companies with their different expertise

"We see that the Danish production sector is burdening our planet more and more, and at the same time, these companies meet increasing demands from customers and legislation. The pilot project confirmed that Decoupling 2030 can do something completely new when it comes to solving the challenges of saving our planet and staying in business – i.a., climate and environmental considerations must be integrated centrally into business development."

Anders Ziegler Kusk

Program Manager for Sustainable Production, Danish Industry Foundation

The Approach: Experimenting and adjusting to meet company needs

To meet these challenges, the partner group and The Danish Industry Foundation take an experimental and flexible approach. That means that the partners continuously adapt offers to the companies’ needs and have full focus on ‘decoupling’ their production and turnover from resource consumption. Furthermore, the eight-year time frame makes it possible to work thoroughly and long-term with the companies and their challenges.

"To realize the production sector's environmental, climate, and business potential, we must collaborate in new ways and with different time horizons than usual. We do not present a fixed format that companies must participate in. Instead, we adapt courses and offers to their needs. At the same time, we are fully focused on and help with implementation."

Morten Rettig

Director, Trekantområdet Danmark

The program has succeeded when 650 companies have taken significant steps towards absolute decoupling, and 3,600 companies – corresponding to approx. 40,000 jobs – have understood scope 3’s crucial importance and have access to advise and tools to help with the company’s sustainable transition in 2030.

A company, for example, is in the process of a sustainable and circular transition if they: 

  • Map their value chain and develop and test new sustainable solutions across their value chain
  • Change their product and business model to a sustainable and perhaps even circular one
  • Upgrade the employees’ skills within sustainability and circularity.

The partner group will help the participants achieve that by focusing on 1) leadership, strategy, and business models, 2) sustainable production, and 3) data and digitalization. Those efforts will, amongst other approaches, happen in

  • Locally anchored and specialized ‘labs’ that help companies develop and test sustainable solutions
  • 1:1 expert advice
  • Competence development through tools
  • Access to new industry networks

The first businesses are expected to start the program during spring 2023. Please contact Julie Hjort at if you want to participate.

The Design Approach

DDC’s role in the project is to ensure Decoupling 2030’s continuous development, facilitate the partner group’s work, ensure the program is mission-driven, and contribute with design knowledge and approaches in some of the labs.

At DDC, we work purposefully with missions, and design as a method is a powerful approach to creating and solving missions. We see the creation of Decoupling 2030 and its continued work and impact as a mission because the program sets a clear direction of how to change the production sector, mobilize the ecosystem around and in the sector, and build capacity through the labs, tools, and sparring.

"Using design as a mindset and method, we can define the future we want to create and ‘practice’ it through prototypes. This also applies when we want to make a sustainable production sector in Denmark. The project's mission can be seen as a design exercise, and missions do not arise by themselves – they must be created. Design can do just that"

Julie Hjort



The Finances

The project is developed with and supported by The Danish Industry Foundation. The Danish Industry Foundation has granted the program DKK 32 million up to and including 2024, with an ambition to spend up to a three-digit amount in the millions by 2030.

The Program 

The program’s ambitions toward 2030 are:

  • 650 companies have taken significant steps towards absolute decoupling
  • 3,600 ​companies have made definite plans for their sustainable transition and have used the advice and tools the program makes available.

 In the first two years of the program, there is a particular focus on the Triangle region because of the high degree of companies willing to adapt (source: Triangle Region of Denmark). Afterward, the program will encompass a larger geographical area.

What is absolute decoupling?

Decoupling is about the connection between economic growth and climate and environmental impact. It’s about separating previously linked systems so that they may operate independently. In this case, ‘absolute decoupling’ means that the relevant climate and environmental impact will be smaller, regardless of increasing company turnover. ‘Relative decoupling’ means that the climate and environmental stress curve rises more slowly than for economic growth.

This project is realizing the following actions to design our irresistible circular society: 

  • Collective Action
  • Proximity to production
  • Data 
  • New Story

Read more about our mission and ten actions to design an irresistible circular society here.

Download the Danish press release from March 22, 2023

The Partners

Julie Hjort

Director of Sustainable Transition

Phone +45 2575 8933
Social LinkedIn

Do you have any questions about the project?

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