Insights #28 – transforming social value

How can the circular economy add social value? | Knowledge Hub 3.0 | Finance saving our planet | The fingerprint of human influence on our climate | Podcast 46 – humanitarian shelters inspired by LEGO

How’s it going with you?

Sorry this newsletter is a bit late (again!). I’ve had my head down with a few projects, including preparing for a webinar at the Save Our Soil online conference THIS week. It’s a 3-day event, focused on Regenerative Agriculture. My talk will focus on how the CE helps farms become more sustainable, and separately, I’m chairing a discussion with a group of farmers, and appearing on a panel discuss the circular economy and agriculture. Here’s a link, all the sessions are free: Save our Soil online conference 24-26 Feb 2021. I’ll include some highlights next time.

Then on Thurs 4 March, Lola Okunrinboye of Women in Sustainability Aberdeen has invited me to be part of a webinar with Izzie Eriksen, founder of school uniform reuse non-profit ApparelXchange (a former podcast guest – Episode 11) and Jane Stewart of Topolytics, a data analytics business which maps the generation, movement and fate of industrial and commercial waste.

You can use this discount code to get free tickets: SPEAKERGUESTS  Follow this link to register: Circular Economy in Practice: How to integrate CE principles. Tickets, Thu 4 Mar 2021 at 17:30 | Eventbrite

I’m often heard being critical of ride-hailing platforms like Uber, which fit the definition of a circular economy ‘sharing’ platform, but can exploit drivers through ‘gig economy’ contracts and, in a drive to achieve a monopolistic position in cities, can end up undercutting public transport options, so contributing to MORE car miles.

Last week, the UK supreme court ruled that Uber has to treat its drivers as ‘workers’ (not quite the same as ’employees’, but crucially, meaning they should get the minimum wage for every hour they are logged onto the app and available for work. Perhaps this will result in increased costs and make Uber less attractive than lower-carbon forms of transport.

The read – Circular Conversations: How can the circular economy help us create social value?

I was delighted to be invited to contribute to the latest Expert series in Circular Conversations, to answer the question: How can the circular economy help us create social value? Circular Conversations was set up by Emanuele Di Francesco, and describes itself as a community platform showcasing solutions for systemic change. It tells stories of change to spread ideas and practices that move us towards a regenerative and distributive economy.

Peter Desmond (my esteemed colleague) also contributed, wearing his hat as co-founder of the African Circular Economy Network, and there are further pieces from Alex Lemille, several people from the CRESTING research project, Justine Laurent from Circulab, and others.

Here’s the link to the article on the Circular Conversations website:

The Resource

I feel it’s critical that we make it easy for everyone to get access to useful, open-sourced information about sustainability and the circular economy. Over the past three years or so, I’ve been liaising with employee-owned consultancy, Circle Economy, contributing examples, giving feedback and trying to help shape the direction of their case study database. The Circle Lab Knowledge Hub is the online library of circular economy case studies where anyone can contribute — an initiative that Rethink Global is proud to be a partner of.

Version 3.0 of the Knowledge Hub is now open to the public, aiming to break down more barriers to circular knowledge. Now, people can find AND also add and edit circular economy case studies, directly on the hub. Have you checked it out? You should! There are thousands of examples and we think it’s the most comprehensive, searchable and open-sourced database of circular economy examples in the world.

Well done to all at the Circle Economy team for their hard work on this. Why not add your own favourite examples and help inspire other people to go circular and be part of the transformation!

The Watch (1) – finance saving our planet

WWF have produced a series of films on YouTube, inspired by the Netflix series Our Planet, narrated by David Attenborough. WWF says “the global business community can be a powerful force to drive action for nature – find out why we are confident that change is possible.” There’s a short 8 minute version, Our Planet: Too Big To Fail (8 minute version) summarising the 5 key actions for the finance sector, and a longer 38 minute film.

Here’s the blurb for short film “How can the finance sector help save the planet? The sector’s leading voices explore the crucial role of finance in turning the tide on climate change and nature loss. Created by the Emmy®️ Award-winning Silverback Films and WWF, it combines spectacular footage from the Our Planet Netflix series with thought-provoking contributions from Mark Carney, Hiro Mizuno, Catherine Howarth [Share Action], Kate Raworth [Doughnut Economics], Bevis Watts [Triodos Bank], Steve Waygood (AVIVA), Tavaziva Madzinga [Swiss Re] and Gillian Tett [Financial Times] (amongst others) on how the finance sector can help build a sustainable future.”

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The Watch (2) ‘the fingerprint of human influence on our climate’

Michael Mann, distinguished professor of atmospheric science from Penn State University, says we lost the past four years to address climate change, but that the U.S. now needs to combat it aggressively. Michael Mann made a significant contribution to the scientific understanding of historic climate change based on the temperature record of the past thousand years – also known as the ‘hockey stick’ graph. Here he is in a 3-minute interview on CNBC in the US (20 February).. Michael Mann: ‘We can see the fingerprint of human influence on our climate’


The listen – humanitarian shelters inspired by LEGO

Podcast episode 46 – entrepreneur Gary Giles is inspired by the circular economy. Gary set up his company, OGEL, to use a material that is quite difficult to recycle and very bulky, so transporting it to be recycled is expensive.

We hear how Gary was inspired by the modular design of Lego, and how he’s developed a way of constructing durable, well-insulated buildings that use only 3 shapes, are easy to assemble and need very few tools. OGEL buildings can be used for humanitarian shelters, ‘working from home’ pods and much more. Plus Gary tells us what a ‘full stop product’ is!

Episode 46 and show notes here:

Last summer, we interviewed Thomas Fecarotta of Rheaply, in the US, for the podcast. Rheaply has just succeeded in raising $8m in funding to help it scale to the next level. Rheaply have developed an ‘asset exchange manager’ to help organisations reuse inventory internally, or with other organisations. Have a listen to the podcast (Episode 31) here:

Thank you notes

Thanks to Sam Greenhalgh, for interviewing me for his What’s in the Box?  Sam Greenhalgh says, ‘Freight and supply chain isn’t considered sexy by most. However, has a different view. There isn’t anything quite as satisfying as a well-oiled supply chain coming together. There is, however, a lot of fluff that surrounds the industry. This podcast looks to break through that fluff. Bringing interesting topics and trends to light with a fresh perspective.’

Here’s the link to Episode 14, in which Sam and I discuss the circular economy and what it means for supply chains.


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