Does circular mean it’s sustainable? Or, are companies just using circular economy solutions to grow their business (and their footprints)?
In this episode, Catherine Weetman wants to shine a light on something that’s been worrying her.
Over the last few years, she’s come to realise that the circular economy is not fit for purpose. It’s not helping create the future we need. Instead, it’s being watered down, and cherry picked. Catherine sees increasing numbers of businesses and policymakers choosing strategies that ARE circular – but aren’t improving sustainability. She’ll be talking about loopholes, rather than loops…
Catherine says “I think we’re at a critical turning point. We need to evolve the circular economy into a framework that supports the future we want – the future we know is possible.
If we don’t, we’re letting all our work, our innovations, our struggles, go to waste. (And you don’t need me to remind you that waste shouldn’t exist in a circular economy!)”
Podcast host Catherine Weetman is a circular economy business advisor, workshop facilitator, speaker and writer. Her 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. Catherine founded Rethink Global in 2013, to help businesses use circular, sustainable approaches to build a better business (and a better world).
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Read on for a summary of the podcast and links to the people, organisations and other resources we mention.
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Links we mention in the episode:
- 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) and you can use discount code CIRCL20 to get 20% off. It’s available in paperback, ebook and Kindle. If you buy it from online sources, make sure you choose the new edition with an orange cover!
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Circular Economy Rebound, Trevor Zink and Roland Geyer, Journal of Industrial Ecology, Volume21, Issue3 https://doi.org/10.1111/jiec.12545 Special Issue: Exploring the Circular Economy
Does circular mean sustainable? How ‘false solutions’ undermine our progress, article by Catherine Weetman: https://www.rethinkglobal.info/does-circular-mean-sustainable-how-false-solutions-undermine-our-progress/
Circular economy rebound – is it always problematic? Article by Catherine Weetman: https://www.rethinkglobal.info/circular-economy-rebound-good-or-bad/
Conceptualizing the circular economy: An analysis of 114 definitions, by Julian Kirchherr, Denise Reike, Marko Hekkert, published in Resources, Conservation and Recycling, Volume 127, December 2017, Pages 221-232 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.resconrec.2017.09.005
Making the circular economy work for human development, by Patrick Schröder, Alexandre Lemille, PeterDesmond. Resources, Conservation and Recycling, Volume 156, May 2020, 104686 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.resconrec.2020.104686
Alice Mah tells Chris Seekings how plastics and chemical companies are taking control of the circular economy narrative, IEMA Transform magazine, June/July 2022 https://www.iema.net/articles/a-continuing-crisis-corporations-owning-the-circular-economy-narrative
Uber And Lyft Usage Increases Miles Driven In Cities, Study Says: So much for decreasing traffic congestion, by Stephen Edelstein UPDATED Oct 12, 2017, TheDrive https://www.thedrive.com/tech/15073/uber-and-lyft-usage-increases-miles-driven-in-cities-study-says
Renting clothes is ‘less green than throwing them away’ – Transportation and dry cleaning make it the worst green option for consumers of fashion, study finds. Article in the Guardian, by Priya Elan, 6 Jul 2021 https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2021/jul/06/renting-clothes-is-less-green-than-throwing-them-away and the research: Innovative recycling or extended use? Comparing the global warming potential of different ownership and end-of-life scenarios for textiles. Jarkko Levänen et al 2021 Environ. Res. Lett. 16 054069 https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/abfac3/pdf
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.