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119 BONUS Ken Webster: the circular ECONOMY! Part 2

Circular Economy Podcast Ep119 BONUS Ken Webster - the circular ECONOMY - Part 2

This is the 2nd part of Catherine’s conversation with Ken Webster, one of the foremost thinkers in the circular economy field, where we explore concepts for a critical aspect that’s being ignored – the economy itself!

In this episode, we go deeper into the possibilities offered by a universal basic dividend, especially as we move to a world where artificial intelligence might completely change the nature of work.

Ken mentions his work with Earth4all, supporting the discourse and new thinking marking the 50th anniversary of the Club of Rome’s ground-breaking Limits to Growth report. 

We move on to Ken’s mission to make these concepts easier to grasp and to help people get excited, plus the importance of getting really clear on the core idea, before trying to make this work in practical terms.

Ken explains the overlaps between the thinking around circular economy and complex, adaptive systems and highlights some of the glaring faultlines in mainstream economic thinking.

That leads us back to the Commons and regenerative and open systems, together with the key questions that should be at the heart of designing circular products, components and materials, 

And we finish by hearing a bit more about Ken’s most recent books, including ABC&D: Creating a Regenerative Circular Economy for All – co-written with Craig Johnson, and his latest book, The Wonderful Circles of Oz: A Circular Economy Story, written with Alex Duff.

If you haven’t already, please do listen to the previous episode to hear Ken talk about the Universal Basic Dividend (not Universal Basic Income), and the importance of reviving the concepts of commoning, and the Commons.

International speaker, author and strategic advisor, Catherine Weetman helps people discover why circular, regenerative and fair solutions are better for people, planet – and prosperity.

Catherine’s award-winning book: A Circular Economy Handbook: How to Build a More Resilient, Competitive and Sustainable Business includes lots of practical examples and tips on getting started. 

Stay in touch for free insights and updates… 

Read on for more on our guest and links to the people, organisations and other resources we mention.

 Don’t forget, you can subscribe to the podcast series on iTunes, Google Podcasts, PlayerFM, Spotify, TuneIn, or search for “circular economy” in your favourite podcast app.  Stay in touch to get free insights and updates, direct to your inbox…

You can also use our interactive, searchable podcast index to find episodes by sector, by region or by circular strategy. Plus, there is now a regular Circular Economy Podcast newsletter, so you get the latest episode show notes and links delivered to your inbox on Sunday morning, each fortnight. The newsletter includes a link to the episode page on our website, with an audio player. You can subscribe by clicking this link to update your preferences.

Links we mention in the episode:

Links for our guest:

Books, people and organisations we mentioned

Guest bio

Ken Webster is a Visiting Professor at Cranfield University and a Fellow of CISL (Cambridge University Institute for Sustainability Leadership). From 2010 – end 2018 he was Head of Innovation for the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, a circular economy pioneer organization, where he helped shape current notions of a ‘circular economy’. More recently he has worked at Univ of Exeter Business School (2019-2021). Ken was awarded a DSc from Univ. of Brighton in 2023.

His book The Circular Economy: A Wealth of Flows (2nd Edition 2017) relates the connections between systems thinking, economic and business opportunity and the transition to a circular economy. He makes regular contributions to conferences and seminars around the world. His current interests include; open vs closed circular economy approaches, construction and the built environment, extended producer ownership and materials data management. Ken is on the supervisory board of the Madaster Foundation in Amsterdam – a materials passport organisation.

He contributed to the new Handbook of the Circular Economy (Eds. Alexander, Pascucci and Charnley (2023) and was a contributor and editor on Earth for All from the Club of Rome. He is a lead author on circular economy for UNEP’s GEO-7 report (in development).

A recent book with an emphasis on exploring different scales, especially in food and agriculture is ABC&D Creating a Regenerative Circular Economy for All (with Craig Johnson), published in 2022.

Playlist: getting started with the circular economy…

Want to know more about the what the circular economy really is, and how it can help your business?  Here’s a playlist to help you get to grips with the concept, how it creates value, and the common myths (spoiler alert – it’s much more than recycling!)

  • #1 What is the circular economy: A quick intro to explain what the circular economy is and why it’s important. We explore how it helps create better products and services, and at the same time helps to make a better world. I break it down into my 5 circular economy components, helping you think about each part of your business.
  • #2 The linear economy and your risk checklist: We dig a bit deeper into the way we do business now, the linear economy, and why that’s creating problems for business, society and our living planet. Also, we’ll look at the risks that emerge from those big-picture issues, and how they might affect your organisation.
  • #90 Does circular mean it’s sustainable? Does circular mean it’s sustainable? Catherine Weetman is worried that companies are using circular economy solutions to grow their business (and their footprints).
  • #101 Circular is better for people, planet and profit! How three simple strategies can help you get started with circular and regenerative solutions that are better for people, planet and profit

And here’s Catherine’s guide: What is the circular economy? 

Want to dig deeper?

Why not buy Catherine’s award-winning book, A Circular Economy Handbook: How to Build a More Resilient, Competitive and Sustainable Business. This comprehensive guide uses a bottom-up, practical approach, and includes hundreds of real examples from around the world, to help you really ‘get’ the circular economy.  Even better, you’ll be inspired with ideas to make your own business more competitive, resilient and sustainable. 

Please let us know what you think of the podcast – and we’d love it if you could leave us a review on iTunes, or wherever you find your podcasts.  Or send us an email

Please let us know what you think of the podcast – and we’d love it if you could leave us a review on iTunes, or wherever you find your podcasts.  Or send us an email

Podcast music

Thanks to Belinda O’Hooley and Heidi Tidow, otherwise known as the brilliant, inventive and generous folk duo, O’Hooley & Tidow for allowing me to use the instrumentals from the live version of Summat’s Brewin’ as music for the podcast. You can find the whole track (inspired by the Copper Family song “Oh Good Ale”) on their album, also called Summat’s Brewin’.  Or, follow them on Twitter.

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