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.
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Links we mention in the episode:
- Circular Economy Podcast on LinkedIn: linkedin.com/showcase/circular-economy-podcast/
- Circular Economy Podcast website: circulareconomypodcast.com
- Catherine Weetman on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/catherine-weetman-9419107/
- A Circular Economy Handbook: How to Build a More Resilient, Competitive and Sustainable Business – buy from any good bookseller, or direct from the publisher Kogan Page, which ships worldwide (free shipping to UK and US) https://www.koganpage.com/CircEcon2
- Interactive podcast index https://www.rethinkglobal.info/circular-economy-podcast-index/
- Rethink Global www.rethinkglobal.info
- Sign up to get the podcast player and shownotes for each new episode emailed to your inbox
Links for our guest:
Books, people and organisations we mentioned
- The Wonderful Circles of Oz: A Circular Economy Story, by Ken Webster and Alex Duff – a new and compelling narrative about the future direction of our economy, calling for macro-economic system design. https://www.routledge.com/The-Wonderful-Circles-of-Oz-A-Circular-Economy-Story/Webster-Duff/p/book/9781032109107 and https://bookshop.org/p/books/the-wonderful-circles-of-oz-a-circular-economy-story-ken-webster/18110152?ean=9781032109107
- The Circular Economy: A Wealth of Flows by Ken Webster (2nd edition) https://bookshop.org/p/books/the-circular-economy-a-wealth-of-flows-2nd-edition-revised-preface-and-conclusion-plus-additional-chapter-ken-webster/6577289?ean=9780992778460
- ABC&D by Craig Johnson and Ken Webster https://bookshop.org/p/books/abc-d-creating-a-regenerative-circular-economy-for-all-craig-johnson/17863262
- Sense and Sustainability https://bookshop.org/p/books/sense-and-sustainability-ken-webster/12266285?ean=9780955983108 https://bookshop.org/p/books/sense-and-sustainability-ken-webster/12266285?ean=9780955983108
- Michel Bauwens and the Peer to Peer Foundation – http://p2pfoundation.net
- David Bollier – news and perspectives on the commons – https://www.bollier.org/
- Christian Felber’s book Change Everything: Creating an Economy for the Common Good https://christian-felber.at/en/books/
- Guy Standing – https://www.guystanding.com/ and a short YouTube video on rentier capitalism – The Wealth Paradox https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dJ5gAiY5-ZY
- Massimo de Angelis, author of The Beginning of History: Value Struggles and Global Capital, and editor of The Commoner web journal, at http://commoner.org.uk.
- Elinor Ostrom – awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 2009 for her “analysis of economic governance, especially the commons”, which she shared with Oliver E. Williamson. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elinor_Ostrom
- Earth4all – a vibrant collective of leading economic thinkers, scientists, and advocates, convened by The Club of Rome, the BI Norwegian Business School, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and the Stockholm Resilience Centre. Building on the legacies of The Limits to Growth and the Planetary Boundaries frameworks, science is at the heart of our work. Leading scientists have developed state of the art systems dynamic models and run different scenarios for possible plausible futures. https://earth4all.life/
- Club of Rome – Limits to Growth +50 – a range of resources published to mark the 50th anniversary of the Limits to Growth report in 1972 https://www.clubofrome.org/ltg50/
- Tipping Point – the true story of the Limits to Growth. “50 years ago, they told us what was coming. Why were they ignored? A 3-part podcast about the true-crime story of “The Limits to Growth”: The study, the backlash – and its legacy” https://tippingpoint-podcast.com/
- Materiom – “the next generation of materials is waste-free and regenerative by design.” https://materiom.org/
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…
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.