Episode 37 – Lieke van Kerkoven of FLOOW2

Circular Economy Podcast Ep 37 Lieke van Kerkoven FLOOW2Catherine Weetman talks to Lieke van Kerkhoven, Co-founder of FLOOW2 Healthcare.

Lieke aims to drive the global change towards a circular economy, by bringing the innovative concept of sharing to the healthcare sector. FLOOW2 is a business that helps other organisations to share all sorts of resources. It helps ‘intensify’ resource loops, so we can get more use and productivity out of many different kinds of resources, everything from equipment to staff.  Back in 2012, FLOOW2 Healthcare became the first sharing marketplace for healthcare organizations, making it easy  to share equipment, services, facilities, knowledge and skills within, or between organizations.

Lieke has a professional background in healthcare. She studied medicine and over the following 10 years, she held managerial and organizational positions in healthcare organizations in The Netherlands and abroad. She experienced first-hand how much organizations can benefit from sharing their assets, in the first place financially, and also socially and environmentally.

Podcast host Catherine Weetman is a circular economy business advisor, workshop facilitator, speaker and writer.  Her award-winning book, 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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About Lieke van Kerkhoven

Lieke van Kerkhoven FLOOW2Lieke co-founded FLOOW2 Healthcare, the first sharing marketplace for healthcare organizations to share equipment, services, facilities, knowledge and skills within or between organizations. Starting in 2012, she has been driving the global change towards a circular economy by bringing the innovative concept of sharing to the healthcare sector.

Lieke has a professional background in healthcare. She studied medicine and has been working in several managerial and organizational positions in healthcare organizations in The Netherlands and abroad for 10 years. She experienced first-hand how much organizations can benefit from sharing their assets, in the first place financially, but certainly also socially and environmentally.

Being involved in the transition to a circular economy from the early beginning she has developed a strong vision on why this is taking place at this moment in time, and how it influences our evolution as humans and the organizations we work in.

Transcript

please add ~2:20 to these timings for the finished episode

Catherine Weetman  00:09

In today’s episode, I’m talking to Lieke van Kerkoven, co founder of FLOOW2 healthcare, Liga aims to drive the global change towards a circular economy by bringing the innovative concept of sharing to the healthcare sector. Back in 2012, flow to healthcare became the first sharing marketplace for healthcare organisations, making it easy to share equipment, services, facilities, knowledge and skills within or between organisations. Lieke has a professional background in health care, she studied medicine and over the following 10 years she held managerial and organisational positions in healthcare organisations in the Netherlands and abroad. she experienced firsthand how much organisations can benefit from sharing their assets in the first place financially. And also socially and environmentally. Lieke, welcome to the circular economy podcast.

Lieke van Kerkoven  01:08

Thank you, Catherine.

Catherine Weetman  01:09

So it’s great to be talking to you today. And I’m really curious to know more about flow to how it started and which sectors you focused on to begin with.

Lieke van Kerkoven  01:20

Yes, so like you already mentioned, we started out in 2012. And the founders then one of the founders worked in the construction business. And he was actually selling heavy equipment to one company here, and also another company a couple of kilometres away. And he knew that both of these companies would only use this piece of equipment for like, half the time, so he figured that that should be more efficient. And he invented the sharing economy for businesses. So they started the platform, but that was in the middle of the crisis back then. So especially in the construction business, there was a lot of Supply but not so much demand because there was so much construction going on.

Lieke van Kerkoven  02:04

And I myself, I came from health care. And in my last position we I managed a clinic in Amsterdam and we actually shared a lot of our resources, like equipment, but also our operating theatres with other clinics in the neighbourhood. Or we would receive an endoscope, for example, from a hospital and we just had to replace the light instead of buying a whole new scope, which meant literally we would save 10,000 euros. So I thought that’s actually a very healthy practice. But it all depended on informal networks. So it just depended on being in a red mailing list being in the red network and other members of our staff who would have connections that will be helpful. And so I thought, well, with the internet developing as it was back then that should not be necessary, or we could actually formalise that practice and you know, and prevent these huge group emails where somebody would always say reply All no I don’t need this but perhaps you could reach out to Susan and she will be able to help you. So I got in touch with FLOOW2. And and we jointly started her to healthcare as a brand and started reaching out to the health care market. And that’s how from there we develop further.

Catherine Weetman  03:21

Good stuff. So yeah, that’s interesting that kind of, you know, that sharing was happening but how the internet and and kind of platform technology has made so many more things possible, you know, with this ability to organise information more specifically to reach the right the right people. So, can you tell us a bit about how flow two works in practice, both from a lender’s perspective and from a borrower’s perspective?

Lieke van Kerkoven  03:53

Yes, so when we started and we had the vision that every organisation would share publicly what they have to offer or what they have, what they need, actually. So we have to come for every business organisation and we have led to healthcare has come for every healthcare organisation. And then we actually discovered that there is a reluctance everybody said it’s a good idea, but nobody was really doing it. So there is a reluctance to openly share whatever you need or whatever you have standing idle. Then we discovered that for private companies, their reluctance comes from a competitive perspective. So they are afraid to share whatever they need or whatever they have standing idle from a competitive point of view, because they might give away information to competitors that they don’t want to give away. And public or semi public organisations were afraid to share. Because if they share what they have standing idle, and then some newspaper comes along and just concludes that they have probably wasted money because they have all this idle capacity that they’re not using and that was bought with public money.

Lieke van Kerkoven  04:57

So that was Kind of a hurdle we had to take. And then we evolved to start making close communities for networks of organisations that were already in a trust relationship with each other or with a central partner so that would that partner would partner with us and then bring the practice of sharing to the network, or organisations that are big enough to start sharing internally. And that’s, for example, a hospital but also in multinational organisations with several locations spread across the country or even the road. They would have a close community where employees could actually make their supply or demand visual and the organisation would be able to optimise usage of what what they already have.

Catherine Weetman  05:44

Yeah, yeah. And how do you get people within the organisations to change their procurement habits away from the you know, this, this is, this is the way I’ve always done it. Yeah, or even because I remember back to my DHL days. And we were trying to encourage transport managers to use the kit that we already had that might be, you know, five miles down the road instead of hiring stuff in. And we had to try all sorts of things. But you know, one of the it was about relationships and they might have a trusted relationship with the supplier, you know, who might take them to the football once a year, things like that. So how do you encourage people to think differently and think about sharing instead?

Lieke van Kerkoven  06:31

Yeah, I think we’ve come to our biggest challenge now already, in this discussion. Because the mindset is, we are selling, of course, it’s a technical solution. But our true what we truly sell is a change in mindset, because people indeed have to get out of their usual way of doing business and start doing something new. And that greatly depends on trust. Like you just said, there is for Sharing you need trust. So that is why we started creating this internal community. So then, of course, you really have this trust factor because it’s just colleagues amongst each other. And we really usually work with the Communication Department. So, yes, we sell the technical platform, but then actually the word work starts because you have to introduce the practice and usually the initial enthusiasm is not a problem. So, people will go there and then they will find something they need or they will actually advertise something but then you have to keep it alive. And that’s where the challenge lies. So you have a continuous effort, communication wise to keep people involved to keep coming back to the platform. And then so organisation is they embedded it in the procurement process. So actually, if an employee hands in a request for procurement of something, then the Procurement Department says well, first you have to check this in journal sharing marketplace. If the public has it somewhere, and if they don’t, then actually we’re going into the procurement procedure, but it depends a bit on the organisation.

Lieke van Kerkoven  08:11

It really, really helps if they make it fun. So we have this sharing community for a big care organisation for disabled disability care. So they have like 800 locations spread across across the Netherlands. And the location can be just one home where people live or it can be a huge daycare centre with a hairdresser in the supermarket etc. So, they started this because they wanted to enhance collaboration between all these various locations because they grew through various mergers. So they had all these regions that were just you know, they joined the organisation but because their activities so local, they didn’t really connect to the central organisation. So they wanted to stimulate collaboration cross regionally and they figured if we Have a sharing platform. And these homes, for example, are going to share furniture, or the people that live there, they need day job. So one home may have a day job of folding laundry for a hospital, but they have too much laundry, so they can actually advertise that job. And then another home can help their clients have a daily activity. So they are really using it to stimulate collaboration. And that is actually really working very well because there is no pressure there is no, we need to make money or we need to save or this is for efficiency. It’s just as a thing for fun and people their employees are using it for that. So that’s really successful. That’s really great to see.

Catherine Weetman  09:40

So when he’s when you say they’re using it for fun, are they do they get kind of rewarded with a, you know, a point system or do they get, you know, share of the week or is it about making connections in in other localities?

Lieke van Kerkoven  09:58

Actually, it’s not me we’ve, we’ve talked about that with several organisations, perhaps you can have a share of the week or something like that. But then they say, No, we don’t want it to be a competition. We want to move away from the competitive attitude, you know, it’s a bad collaboration, and no one is best or whatever, you know. But we do highlight certain exchanges, for example, in the newsletter, so it’s not like a reward or you’re better than the rest. But you know, if something fun or something special changed hands in organisation, and then it gets some attention, but it’s not.

Catherine Weetman  10:35

So do you mean it’s not a kind of finding, finding interesting stories about what’s been shared? And that can help spark ideas for a while. If you know if that works, then this won’t work. Yeah,

Lieke van Kerkoven  10:48

yeah. That’s the intention. Yeah. Yeah. enthusiasm and interest. Yeah,

Catherine Weetman  10:53

yeah. So the fun part of it really is kind of getting it into conversations and getting people to be creative about it. How they’re approaching it. And yeah, and that kind of thing. Yeah, you kind of feel a sense of personal achievement and that personally, you’ve made a made a difference. Yeah. Yeah,

Lieke van Kerkoven  11:12

yeah. Because the people on the work floor, they usually have a big resistance to the waste that is going on. And they know very well what is standing idle or what they need. And in the beginning, very often we speak to the managers and their job, obviously, is to have no idle capacity. So if we talk about that, and they say no, but we don’t have that because if they would say, I have that and they would have done a bad job. So we say always leave it to the creativity of the people and and really in every organisation, we see different things that we have never thought of before and then they use it for that and then say, that’s also possible indeed. So that’s really fun. Because people in their daily work habit, they have a very different perception of of what’s going on or what they need or what might work, then the managers and that’s not bad. That’s just

Catherine Weetman  12:08

that’s just the way it is. Yeah, when I started my career in industrial engineering, one of the lessons you know, in the training that I did was that if you want to find a better way to do this particular process, or a better way to lay out this factory floor or whatever, you know, ask the people who are doing the job because they know it better than anybody and they’ve and they’ve probably already thought through the annoying things that that stop them doing it in a in a more Yeah, productive and less frustrating way.

Lieke van Kerkoven  12:43

Yeah, exactly. Because they bump their knee everyday to that stupid thing that is standing there and nobody really knows why. So they know what what needs to change.

Catherine Weetman  12:55

And are you able to take so you say them you know, they’re the these new examples popping up that really surprised you, you know, in ways that people are being creative about what can be shared? Are you able to anonymize any of those but share them with the other people in the network to kind of, you know, help help spread the creativity or or is it? Is it very much down to each organisation to kind of, you know, focus on their own their own way of of accelerating this.

Lieke van Kerkoven  13:30

Now, I can actually share two very nice examples. One is from healthcare and one not from healthcare. So that might, you know, make it clear. So the first one is in the hospital and they have a lady who worked in the Department of Physical Therapy, so that’s obviously quite heavy, heavy work physically, and she had an injury, so she had to recover and they didn’t have any work on that department. I was light enough for her to handle it that point. So they actually put an advertisement out saying that this lady needed, you know, was available for work.

Lieke van Kerkoven  14:04

And then the Childcare department, they reached out and they said, Well, we have a lot of administrative work and our clothes and our toys need cleaning. So she went there and she, you know, just had her stayed in the rhythm. She was a value to the organisation until she was fit enough again to go back to her own job. So they they gained two sides because this lady was not at home, not being sick. And they avoided renting in an external staff to do the administrative work that needed to be done anyway. So that was something that we had never thought of before and they just use it to their own law, best, best interest. And another one is in the past prices. We also have platforms for business parks. So that’s the local community where a lot of organisations are very close to each other but everybody just drives their everyday to their own organisation and You know, do their thing and then drive home. So nobody really knows what the neighbours do or have. And a lot of municipalities want to stimulate collaboration within these communities. So they facilitate a sharing platform for that particular business park. And then there is an overlapping community for all the business parks because some capacity you want to share locally and some capacity to more expensive or rare forms of capacity, you want to share more broadly with the country, for example.

Lieke van Kerkoven  15:30

So in the crisis, you actually saw that some businesses, people, their business fell very low because there was no activity anymore. And some businesses, they saw a spike in activity because they were online or you know, they had huge activities in the warehouse. So what we saw on a business park close by here is that one of the companies they actually will they have a lot of stuff sitting there, they had to pay them, but you know, they they didn’t have any real activity whereas There was a neighbour, and they needed a lot of hands in their warehouses. So they were actually able to exchange stuff in this time of crisis, so it was a very special time. And and that was actually very beautiful to see that in this school that this was facilitated by a sharing community.

Catherine Weetman  16:19

Hmm. Yeah, that’s brilliant. Yeah. And I’m sure there’s there’s so much untapped potential. Yeah, and those kind of local things. I think on your website, it talks about, you know, sharing wastes across business parks, and that’s something I’ve been trying to look at locally. Yeah. But you know, we’re out in a rural area. And businesses have to pay for their mixed waste to be taken away. They can’t get anybody to, to even quote, for doing a collection of say just plastic or just cardboard. And it seems to be a monopoly. That’s, that’s, you know, it’s one provider and and all that Do is charge you to take away your mixed waste. But if businesses were able to get together and say, well, between us, we’ve got this much cardboard and this much plastic and we’ll, you know, at one of our locations will consolidate it and bale it up, then it becomes more valuable to a recycler. So those kinds of things, there’s just so much potential isn’t there?

17:22

Yeah. And And the key thing there, the starting point is the transparency. That’s what we always say, because sometimes people say, well, there is no, we don’t have any reason to start a sharing community, but then we say okay, but now it’s not available, everybody just does their own thing, you know, you need to transparency to spark the creativity and entrepreneurship of the others. You know, now there is no not such such an amount of cardboard available that another entrepreneur might say or actually now that this is available, I might do this or that with it. And then you know, see a new business opportunity. So transparency is what’s going to spark the next step.

Catherine Weetman  18:02

Mmm. Yeah, I think that’s a really important point. Yeah. It’s, it’s and can apply to so many other things. Yeah. You know that when you start making things more transparent people who might have a solution in their head suddenly can see where there’s a problem. Yeah. And connected to. Yeah. So what? over over the, you know, because the business has been going now, you know, we’re getting close to a decade, which is quite old and circular economy term. So yeah, what have you struggled with? And what what surprised you in the process of building the business?

18:44

Well, the main struggle I already already mentioned is the mindset. You know, when we started in 2012, you probably noticed as well, certainly, economy was really very much in the childhood, not even in baby stage, I think so when we started the 2012 we really had to educate the market most people hadn’t heard of it, let alone sharing economy. You know, some people had heard of Airbnb, but that was or something for the front runners back then. So we spent, I think, like five years or something five or six years just talking about the why, you know, we were like missionaries, what is circular economy, practice and now since two or three years we see turn, certain economy obviously has found its way into business and organisational agendas. It’s usually embedded somewhere. It’s not yet a real decision driver, but you know, it’s gaining ground and now we get questions about the how and the what, so okay, we get what you’re doing, but how will that work for us and what do we need to do for that? So that is something that is that’s a big turning point. That’s really important for us. The current crisis, bad as it was in has always also made it very clear that collaboration is something that is really needed if you want a flexible and agile organisation. And we’ve also seen that it is possible, you know, after the big the big spike in, you know, people went back to doing what they did, and also have some competitive sense again, but you know, there was a point in a crisis that everybody was really collaborative, and there was a lot of, you know, help for organisations struggling, and that was really beautiful to see. And we’re trying to build on on that sense to introduce federal law practice. Yeah.

Catherine Weetman  20:38

Yeah, that’s what I think is I guess, yeah, that can kind of play into this sort of, you know, helping people adopt a new mindset as well, you know, encouraging and going back to the stories of collaboration that that helped businesses out so much in the pandemic. Yeah, because I think it’s been Such a shock to everybody system that those stories will resonate for quite a long period of time. Yeah. And and I think people see, see the benefits in multiple different ways. So, yeah. There’s less risk of I think of people just compartmentalising that response to something that was very specific to that one problem, you know, then kind of see the benefits, translating into lots of aspects of the business.

Lieke van Kerkoven  21:30

Yeah, yeah, I think so too. 

Catherine Weetman  21:31

What plans do you have for the next phase of FLOOW2?

Lieke van Kerkoven  21:37

Well, obviously, we want to further expand. Like I said, we’ve already evolved into creating disclose communities for sharing. But we’re kind of discovering now because sharing is still something that is really nice to have. It is not everybody really get it immediately what it is. So We still spend a lot of time explaining and also when we when, you know, in an organisation you have, you have a really big communication effort. So we’re now kind of seeing if we can go to Lourdes, a digital storage room. So every organisation has this physical storage room, usually where they have some desks or equipment or I don’t know, whatever they have. And you know, that kind of using that as a metaphor we were saying, Okay, so this is also the place where you’re going to go but there’s no physical place and there’s no guy who has to manage that. It’s just all your employees coming to the same place, it’s online, and they are going to show you what they have or what they may need. So making it a storage room. I think it’s gonna it really resonated with people. And also because during the crisis, you obviously saw a huge mismatch between supply and And even within organisations, so it’s become very clear that some central form of organisation of your what you already have your capacity is really necessary in times of crisis, but also outside times of crisis, obviously. So that is where we are going now.

Catherine Weetman  23:19

Yeah, that that reminds me of the conversation I had with Tom Fecarotta of Rheaply a few podcasts ago, and they help organisations exchange underused assets and consumables and they, they started off in research universities and so on that were that were maybe buying chemicals and and biological materials and things like that and would have, you know, leftover stock and then kind of grew it from there. And within organisations, it was sort of easier because people might be talking the same language in terms of the procurement cap. To log, you know, what they called each different thing and the code numbers and so on. But between organisations, it’s, you know, he could be talking in completely different languages. And so what they’ve done is kind of setup almost a translation dictionary. So one organisation, you know, it gets mapped to us to a more standard terminology. And then the other organisation that’s mapped as well and suddenly they’re able to see, see, you know, a single pool of items instead of, you know, you might you might call it I don’t know am I’m trying to think you might call it a coffee cup, and I might just call it a cup and saucer. Yeah, something that simple. And just how it gets catalogued in the first place for the first person who decides to buy that thing in the organisation can mean the difference between it being visible and not not visible? Yeah. So I really like the idea of this kind of digital warehouse and, you know, having worked in supply chain for a long time, you know, this idea of a, of a warehouse management system that can look across several organisations, and see what’s where, and, and, and even, you know, send out the instruction to bring this from this location. And, you know, and get it. Yeah, get it to here. Yeah. All without a lot of manual intervention. So that that sounds really, really interesting. And before when we were talking earlier, before we started recording, you were talking about an example, with pharmacists. That was kind of breaking new ground as well. Can you tell us a little bit more about that?

Lieke van Kerkoven  25:48

Yeah. So I think, a year and a half ago or something, we started a pilot we were approached by two pharmacists, who said Well, there’s a lot of discussion going on, about waste of medication, you know, that’s something that gets really close to many people’s hearts because they all have a grandma, someone who, you know, has a lot of medication and they have to throw it away. But they said, there’s also a lot of waste of medication within our pharmacies, and nobody really talks about that. Because if, you know, sometimes we ought to expensive medication and then usually because there is a patient with a subscription for that. But this patient dies or they move or they change therapy, and then that medication remains in our pharmacies because it can’t go back to the wholesale organisation. It just sits there. It’s not something you give out every week, and then it reaches the expiration date and you just have to destroy it. So they said, What’s going on right now is that a lot of pharmacists, they use WhatsApp, you know, to actually say I have this package does anybody need this and then another pharmacist will say, Okay, I do. So they will, you know, exchange, the package will be sent through regular mail. Everybody just gets really tired because it’s worth several thousands of euros plus shipping You can’t monitor the conditions during the, you know, the male

Catherine Weetman  27:04

temperature and so on. Yeah,

27:06

exactly. Which is really important for so medication. So they said that’s really something that we would like to you know, formalise, again, it’s an informal practice. There’s a lot of potential for saving money, but especially resources because the production of medication is the third most ecologically harmful procedure in healthcare. So it’s really you know, birth making a change there. So we created form of swap in the Netherlands we conducted a pilot below the radar because it’s actually not allowed for pharmacists to trade medication between them. You can only sell medication if you have a wholesale permit to a pharmacist. We there are 20 pharmacists who joined in the pilot and in six months, we were able to save up nearly 60,000 euros with Wow. Yeah. Couple of packages. So last fall, we won the most Sustainable Healthcare Practitioner in the Netherlands award. And this spring, the Dutch Federation for Pharmacists awarded us the Innovation Award 2020. So that was all really promising. But then, of course, we got to the point where that Health Inspection would actually knock on our door and say, yes, this is all very nice guys. But, you know, it’s not, it’s not legal, it’s not legal. And, you know, what are we going to do about this? And so we sat down with them, and also with the Ministry of Health, but it’s European legislation. So the Ministry of Health can really do something about that. It’s the inspection that has to, to, you know, say something and now last week, they announced that they are going to give us a year, a year in which they will allow the pharmacist to continue doing what they do. You know, we’ve saved over 200,000 euros already now. And so that’s really something and in that year, we have to organise pharma swap in such a way that it it’s within the rules, so that’s going to be a big challenge. It’s going to be a lot work, but it’s very encouraging that they are giving us the trust and the confidence to keep going this because they really like how we have put it up, you know, we’ve made sure it’s safe. And according to all the rules, we have a professional transportation company. So every deal is made on a platform, then automatically a match message goes to a professional organisation that facilitates transport in a safe manner. So they really like having done and thought about everything. And this is quite big, actually. And a really great example of circular practice, I think.

Catherine Weetman  29:35

Yeah, sounds fantastic. It’s a real game changer, isn’t it? It is Yeah. And obviously could be translated worldwide. Yeah. So yeah, fantastic.

Lieke van Kerkoven  29:46

Especially in Europe, because it’s European rule. So if, if the Dutch example, works, and we organise this such a way that it becomes the grey area, and it allows to help especially to say okay, now it’s fine. It’s safe. Then we can actually go into the rest of Europe because it’s just the same rules, huh?

Catherine Weetman  30:05

Yeah, exactly. Yeah. And if even under a regulated system that’s all about patient safety and so on. If it works in Europe and can fit the legislations, then it would probably work for most of the other countries. Yeah. So yeah, yeah. Brilliant. Yeah. So let’s come back. Because, you know, I’m interested to find out because you, you were involved in the circular economy in the really early stages, you know, as we, as you said before, it really got to the baby stage. So what first triggered your interest in circular economy?

Lieke van Kerkoven  30:44

Yeah, it wasn’t so much the circular economy as such. It was only later that I found out that that is what they called it. Because it was like I said in that in that health clinic, where we actually did, you know, share stuff, that I thought this is very healthy financially. You First place and then secondly, obviously, ecologically. And then only later that I found out about, about the circular economy concept that was actually, you know, put in words to the thing that we were doing.

Catherine Weetman  31:14

Hmm. Okay. And you’ve said that as you’ve been involved in the transition to a circular economy from the early beginnings, you have a strong sense of why it’s starting to resonate with people and gain momentum now. And also how it influences our evolution as humans and the organisations we work in. Could you tell us a bit more about that?

Lieke van Kerkoven  31:36

Yeah, yes, it’s I really believe that this is the most logical next step in in our human evolution. Obviously, you know, we’ve come from this. There have been two industrial revolutions. Then we’ve had revolutions where we really develops our assets so to say – so we automated a lot of things that usually reduce the cost of a lot of time. But it has also taken away a lot of freedom because people had to start working in factories, you know, we became numbers. We controlled a lot of things, it was really top down, controlled by the big capital, but also very strong government. It was an essential part of our history. But now I think we are progressing. We’ve had the communication revolution. Now we are in the technical revolution. And it’s again freeing us up, we don’t need to be in a place from nine to five, you know, that’s not necessary anymore. Every guy or girl with a great idea, they can just go online and disrupt an entire business sector in just a couple of years, so to say because they have a brilliant idea. You don’t need big capital anymore to be to be a player of any, any worth. So I think that this is really, really changing the our societies more than people are currently aware. And the freedom that it gives us, is allowing us to actually make the next step in our evolution, which is a spiritual development. And I think a lot of the things that are going on right now in the world and sustainability or a circular economy is one thing, but also there’s a lot of what we have a lot of things with equality. With inclusiveness, obviously, there’s a lot of negativity in the world. And I think they are all signs of the of where we hit the ball with our current way of thinking. We really still believe that there is a divide and that my way is better than your way. You know, you see that everywhere in politics and all kinds of discussion in the media. And I think it’s, for example, the circular economy. It’s a rational framework, because obviously we come from the rational era. So we express In the way we know so it’s a rational framework for spiritual development because if we are able to make this transition and and really, actually remember that we are not in individuals as such, but that we’re all part of something bigger than then it’s just ourselves, then it’s only logical that we take better care of the ecosystem that we’re part of, which means your family it means the people that you work with, but it also means the nature that is around you and and the resources that you use the suppliers that you have your your clients, your your everything, how you construct your business. And, you know, as much as making money, really the only goal is it. Or if you want to help your business, is there more to it, and why do people work for you? Not because they want to make more money for you. They want they want they need more than that. So yeah, I think that’s that’s where we are right now. And it’s it’s a kind of a tipping point.

Catherine Weetman  34:59

Yeah, I agree. And I think we are starting to see a lot more about purpose driven business. And the younger generation, particularly there lots of surveys to say that they’re looking for more meaning and more more kind of, you know, connection and the ability to really feel proud of the company that they’re working for, and the positive impact that they’re having on the world. And I think also we’re starting to realise, through scientific advances, just how interconnected everything is in nature. It’s, it’s not as kind of, you know, unsophisticated as we thought it was, and that, you know, there are so many knock on effects if we impact on one thing I read a study this week about the impact of microplastics on, you know, ants and worms and insects in the in the soil. So we’re, we’re suddenly starting to realise that there are so many consequences to the way that we’ve been living for the last Yeah. ticularly the last 50 years.

Lieke van Kerkoven  35:58

Yeah, yeah, that’s becoming so clear. everything is interconnected. Also the crisis has made it so clear, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s everywhere and it impacts it may be it may be a disease but it impacts the you know, the furthest corners of our societies very, very much. It’s I you know, I studied medicine and when I studied medicine in the western medicine, we have compartmentalised our bodies, you know, if you have something with your intestine, you go to a gastroenterologist, if it’s your not your lungs, you go to a pulmonologist, and if they can find it, and they say, I’m sorry, but you have to go back to your GP or whatever, you know, find something yourself. We treat our body like a car, you know, if it’s something with the engine or something with the wiring, you know, you fix it, and then you go again, but that’s not it’s becoming more and more clear that it’s one big system and it’s not just the physical parts, it’s also everything around it. You know, it’s what you eat, it’s the people you hang out with. It’s the things you you allow to to reach you, you know, like the news or the music, you listen to Or the nature if you are in a big big city where there is no nature or if you walk your dog every day in the in the woods, it impacts your, your state of being and your health. And the more we discover that, you know, that’s that’s the small scale, but at the large scale, it’s exactly the same.

Catherine Weetman  37:17

Yeah, and I think again, the lockdown has helped a lot of people understand that for themselves, you know, because there was so much going on and people have found peace and space in nature, even if that was only able to be their local park. So I think people are starting to realise just how how it can help our mental well being as well as you know, getting physical exercise and exertion yes on. So yeah, well, let’s, let’s hope the momentum continues on on that front as well. Indeed, indeed. So, Lieke, is there anyone you’d recommend as a future guest for the programme, to inspire people about the circular economy.

Lieke van Kerkoven  38:03

Yes, Marielle van Hemert. She’s also Dutch. And she co founded together with another lady the Circular Stories and they are actually travelling across the world and collecting the stories and visualising them. And it’s a really nice effort, what they’re doing. Because they’re really, you know, the storytelling is obviously very necessary for the behavioural change that we need. And they’re really an energetic and inspiring lady. So it might be nice to have them.

Catherine Weetman  38:36

Great. That sounds good. And I’ve got a funny feeling. Because somebody from a circular stories organisation connected with me this week on LinkedIn. So there’s a high high chance it’s the same organiser Yeah, I’ll look that up. And Liga if people want to find out more about you and about flow two. How can they get in touch?

Lieke van Kerkoven  38:57

Yeah, well for our websites go to FLOOW2dot com and go to healthcare.com.

Catherine Weetman  39:02

And that’s FLOOW2 with with double O. So F L O O W two,

Lieke van Kerkoven  39:08

two. Yeah, exactly. Thanks for that, or connect with me on LinkedIn. You know, I’m easy to find. So,

Catherine Weetman  39:15

yeah, brilliant. So Lieke, we’ll put those those links as well as the transcript in the show notes at circular economy podcast.com. And we wish you the best of luck with the next phase of FLOOW2, and particularly FLOOW2 healthcare and fingers crossed for the regulation ‘box ticking’ on the pharmacy example. Yeah, and thanks for sharing all those stories with us today. Thank you Lieke.

Lieke van Kerkoven  39:40

Thank you, Catherine. Good luck with your podcast.

Catherine Weetman  39:42

Thank you. Thank you.

Want to find out more about the circular economy?

If you’d like to learn more about the circular economy and how it could help your business, why not listen to Episode 1, or read our guide: What is the Circular Economy

To go deeper, you could buy Catherine’s book, A Circular Economy Handbook for Business and Supply Chains This comprehensive guide uses a bottom-up, practical approach.  It includes lots 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 a Tweet: @Rethink _Global.

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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