Circular insights #21

Textile Reuse | Redefining Purpose | Build Back Better | Power & Responsibility | National Geographic | Sustainable Smartphones? |

How can your trash become someone else’s treasure?

We help entrepreneurs, companies and business leaders discover and use the circular economy – to build profitable, resilient, sustainable and successful businesses.  We believe in a circular economy that is fair, transparent and inclusive, to create a better world for everyone. 

Welcome to the latest round-up of what we’ve shared, and what’s inspired us. In this issue:

  • Episode 26 of the Circular Economy Podcast, with Katie Briggs of the Textile Review
  • Your trash is someone else’s treasure:  matchmaking for end-of-use textiles
  • What we’ve been reading & watching: Redefining purpose, Build back better, With power comes responsibility, National Geographic on the circular economy, Sustainable smartphones?
  • Thank you letters
  • Optimism and Outrage – our latest!

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Episode 26 of the Circular Economy Podcast, with Katie Briggs of the Textile Review

Katie Briggs is the founder of The Textile Review, in the UK. While working in the events industry, Katie noticed the vast waste of materials, and felt compelled to create solutions to slow down the environmental impact of that.

In live events, fabric is used as draping and other décor, often just for a few days before being thrown away – treated almost as ‘single-use’ materials.

Katie saw the opportunity for re-use, and decided to take direct and hands-on approach. 

The Textile Review reclaims fabric from events and then makes it available again to hire or buy, helping people reuse instead of buying new.

Episode show notes and audioplayer here

Find the podcast series on iTunesGoogle PodcastsPlayerFM, Spotify, TuneIn, or search for “circular economy” in your favourite podcast app.

PS We’d love it if you could post a review, and help other people find us!

Your trash is someone else’s treasure:  matchmaking for end-of-use textiles

The Textile Review, founded by Katie Briggs, is making fabric use more circular and sustainable, with services to repurpose and reuse textiles. It connects businesses, designers and students, matching ‘I have’ with ‘I need’ and creating value for both providers and users.

The Textile Review aims to ‘help end the issue of single-use textiles across event and design industries’, by slowing the flow of resources. We examine the different ways it creates value for both providers and users.

What we’ve been reading and watching

Redefining purpose

We’re noticing lots of blogs, media articles and briefing papers, wondering what the post-pandemic ‘new abnormal’ will look and feel like. We’ve highlighted the different approaches taken by global corporates in previous newsletters. Some are ‘going the extra mile’ to look after their suppliers, employees and customers. However, others are treating all those stakeholders as they tend to treat our planet’s resources and ecosystems – as disposable.

Mona Bitar, a partner with consultancy EY, published a blog, reflecting on a webcast with CEOs from big businesses: The CEO Perspective: How is COVID-19 defining business purpose?  Will this matter in the long-term? Michael Dell, Chairman and CEO of Dell Technologies, summed it up in the webcast, “Employees, customers, partners and communities will remember how we treated them during this time.”  However, you might question whether some of the companies mentioned in the article have a purpose beyond profit…

Build back better

On 28 April, Harald Friedl, CEO at Circle Economy, invited two leading circular economy advocates and thinkers to discuss the current government and economic responses to the coronavirus pandemic. Ken Webster (Ellen MacArthur Foundation and Exeter University) and Alex Lemille (consultant with Anthesis, and one of Peter’s co-founders from the African Circular Economy Network) share their thoughts on how circular, inclusive approaches could help us ‘build back better’. 

Harald summed up the discussion by highlighting that the circular economy is a new leadership message for the present times which we should share with our networks. He then asked Alex and Ken to give three words that world leaders should hear to prepare for a post-Covid world. Alex suggested three themes: “Protect the commons, humans are the key to everything, and ‘last longer’ as there is only one planet”. Ken followed Harald’s request to the letter: “Circulate don’t extract”.

Watch the recording on YouTube: Post Covid Leadership: build back better – how circular economy will play a role

With great power comes great responsibility

Businesses are already expected to be more transparent. As the Guardian reveals in this article about Fashion Revolution’s newly-released 2020 Fashion Transparency Index – only 40 per cent of brands disclose even their top-tier suppliers. This is the fifth annual edition of the index. This year it reviewed 250 of the world’s largest fashion brands and retailers and ranked them according to how much they disclose about their social and environmental policies, practices and impacts.

National Geographic – Is a world without trash possible?

National Geographic’s March 2020 magazine included a big feature on the circular economy: Is a world without trash possible? The vision of a “circular economy”—where we use resources sparingly and recycle endlessly—is inspiring businesses and environmentalists alike.  It’s now available online.

The article includes ‘An X-Ray of the Global Economy’ – National Geographic’s redrawing of the Sankey diagram from Circle Economy’s Circularity Gap Report.  As the article says: “Every year we transform more than 100 billion tons of raw material into products. Less than a quarter becomes buildings, cars, or other long-lasting things. Less than 10 percent cycles back into the economy. The circular economy movement aims to increase that number and reduce the enormous amount of waste.”

There are sections on metals, clothing and food – it’s well worth a read.

Apple head towards circularity - but how sustainable are smartphones?

Tech manufacturer Apple announced its ambition to be circular (though without a target date). Its sustainability pages say “Making without taking sounds impossible. But it’s our goal. We want to one day manufacture products without mining any new materials from the earth. “

Check out the lastest video from the brilliant Alex Magnin at Sustainability Illustrated (disclosure – we support Alex via Patreon). Alex digs into Apple’s sustainability report, examining smartphones through the lens of the Natural Step’s science-based sustainability principles.

Watch the video for free on YouTube: Can the planet take 1,500,000,000 new iPhones each year? (sustainability analysis)

Thank you letters

A late thank you to our friends at Circle Economy, for including us as Knowledge Partners for the Circle Lab Knowledge Hub. We’ve been working with Circle Economy to come up with a shared taxonomy for our circular economy examples and case studies. So far we’ve included ~100 of our 600+ examples.  Check out the knowledge hub – it has over 2000 examples and is easy to search and filter to help you find what you need.

Optimism and outrage

Inspired by the ‘Outrage and Optimism podcast‘ by Christiana Figueres (Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC 2010-2016), Tom Rivett-Carnac (ex UNFCCC and CDP) and their team at Global Optimism, we’re highlighting things we’re feeling optimistic about… (we reckon there’s enough bad news right now, so we’ll skip outrage).

Do you know any teenagers that want to make a difference? The Ellen MacArthur Foundation has launched an online Circular Economy learning programme for teenagers (13-18), which starts on May 7 2020.

The two-day Petersberg Climate Dialogue finished yesterday evening, with ministerial leaders from the UK, Germany, the EU and the UN all delivering rallying cries for nations to focus on climate mitigation as part of any efforts to stimulate the economic downturned caused by the coronavirus outbreak. Read a summary on EDIE.NET Messages of hope: How world leaders are rallying for a green Covid-19 recovery

Hope you have a good week…

Catherine Weetman & Peter Desmond

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