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Circular economy

Circular Economy Podcast artwork - Ep 124 Share Shed

124 Share Shed: the world’s first travelling library of things

Mirella Ferraz is co-founder of Share Shed, the world’s first travelling library of things. The Share Shed van visits rural communities, so people can borrow a wide range of useful things, including tools, household appliances, camping and gardening equipment, sewing machines, suitcases and much more!
Share Shed aims to
• Help people save money, space and resources, and reduce clutter
• Build bridges between people’s needs and wants and the resources already available in their community
• Support more collaborative and sustainable lifestyles and inspire people to engage in social change
Mirella Ferraz has worked for over 10 years at the Network of Wellbeing, which supports Share Shed, and she is proud to set up and run community projects that support the wellbeing of people and the planet. Mirella grew up in Brazil, and currently lives in Devon, UK.
We find out how Share Shed works in practice, and how it’s been evolving as it expands to serve more communities – including finding was to make the service more convenient for those who can’t make it to the Shed’s pick up and drop off locations and schedule.
Mirella tells us how perceptions and attitudes are changing, too – for a variety of reasons.

"We are the people we've been waiting for" - Navajo medicine man's saying

Dreaming our way to a fairer, thriving world

Millions of us are dreaming of a brighter, fairer, healthier world. And yet, we are held back, by those who want us to keep believing the false promises of consumerism. It’s time to break free, to choose a better way: a Giant Leap towards sustainable, prosperous and equitable wellbeing for all.

Circular Economy Podcast - artwork for Ep123 - Topolytics

123 Topolytics: making waste visible, verifiable and valuable

We explore why it’s important for business to map, and understand their waste flows: what it is, specifically; where it comes from and goes to; how much there is – and why!; and to understand the opportunities for wasting less and circulating more value.
Topolytics is a data analytics business that is making the world’s waste visible, verifiable and valuable.
Michael Groves and Fleur Ruckley explain how data analytics, mapping and machine learning can make waste and resource management more transparent, efficient and effective, both commercially and environmentally.
Founder and CEO Michael Groves is a geographer with a PhD in aerial and satellite earth observation. Michael has over 20 years’ experience in environmental management and sustainability reporting.
Fleur Ruckley is Topolytics’ Head of Implementation, using Topolytics’ WasteMap® platform to generate actionable waste and resources analytics for clients and their supply chains.
Fleur has a degree in Natural Sciences and a Masters in Environmental Management, and has worked in the charity, public and private sector supporting organisations, communities and schools to develop and implement sustainable and circular policies and practices. Fleur is a Chartered Waste Manager and is a member of the Circular Economy Steering Group for the Institute for Environmental Management & Assessment.
Leveraging Topolytics waste map means companies can identify areas for improvement, such as preventing or reducing the waste or by re-designing processes and products, to support reuse and to achieve more efficient and sustainable outcomes.
Mike explains how those sectors with significant waste generation are showing increasing interest in this. Business that understand what materials they produce and consume, can then make better decisions about recovery, reuse and recycling, and Geospatial analysis can help reduce waste by identifying material flow and leakage.
Fleur tells us how companies are starting to see the benefits of using data and modeling to reduce waste in their supply chains, with improvements in ESG reporting, supplier management, and overall performance.
Mike also highlights the potential for industrial symbiosis, using unwanted materials to create resources for another organisation – in other words, new by-products and value opportunities!

Cartoon - excavating chunks from our planet - from 360 Dialogues

Are you held back by last-century thinking?

It was great to be featured by Greenbiz in January, although after reflecting, I realised a couple of my ‘soundbites’ could be read to mean exactly the opposite of what I went on to talk about…! This blog unpacks those, explaining more about what I think is keeping business leaders stuck in ‘last century’ thinking, and how to avoid that trap.

Circular Economy Podcast - episode 122 artwork - Iain McKechnie - steps to a services-led strategy

122 Iain McKechnie: steps to a services-led strategy

Iain McKechnie of the Advanced Services Group helps clients develop services-led strategies, improving circularity and outcomes for the businesses and their customers.
The market for services, including rental, subscriptions and ‘X-as-a-service’ is growing rapidly, both for business to business and business to consumer markets, and services can be a gamechanger for businesses looking to shrink their footprint and adopt circular strategies.
It’s all part of a shift from a culture of ‘ownership’ to ‘usership’, with services emerging as a way to provide more convenient, flexible options for customers, avoiding the burden and hassle of ownership. Meanwhile, businesses can benefit from the stability of recurring revenue, predictable income streams and easier financial planning; and improve sustainability by using resources more efficiently. And providing services helps businesses get closer to their customers, with many more opportunities for contact and dialogues, discovering more about what customers value, and how to improve things.
The Advanced Services Group are specialists in servitization research and practice, with work that is grounded in the latest academic research, real industry insight, business know-how and experience.
The Advanced Services Group helps manufacturing companies and technology innovators on their servitization journey to develop services-led strategies and ultimately transform their business model to compete through advanced services. ASG has worked with over 300 businesses, multinational companies and SMEs to develop their growth strategies through services.
Iain tells us a bit about what Advanced Services Group does, and which kind of sectors are starting to move towards service-based models. Iain then explains how companies can transition from selling products, to moving along what ASG calls the ‘Services Staircase’, developing different kinds of services to create value for their customers.
Iain talks about the kind of benefits these companies are seeing – and how this is better for their customers, too. We hear what typically holds companies back from switching to services, and how they might get started.
Iain shares a couple of diagrams from the resources on ASG’s website – the Transformation Roadmap and the Services Staircase, and I’ve included links to those in the shownotes.

Circular Economy Podcast episode 121 - Kitty Wilson Brown and Claire O'Sullivan of Contemporary Hempery

121 Claire O’Sullivan and Kitty Wilson Brown: Contemporary Hempery

Claire O’Sullivan and Kitty Wilson Brown are two inspiring people who are passionate about the properties and potential of hemp, especially for textiles. Their journey together led them to found a UK business, Contemporary Hempery. Hemp has amazing potential, for a wide range of products, and it’s brilliant for regenerative farming practices – so why aren’t we doing more with it? It’s useful as a textile, in construction, in food and personal care products, and as an alternative to plastic. But although cultivation is increasing and being encouraged by the European Union, elsewhere it’s a different picture.
Kitty and Claire outline some of the uses of hemp across different sectors, about the little-known history of hemp growing in the UK, and some of the ways it was used – many of them absolutely essential to our industrial evolution. We’ll also hear about some of the current issues, in terms of hemp production and processing.
Kitty and Claire also share the story of how they came together, the amazing coincidences that sparked their interest and what drove them to start Contemporary Hempery, to embark on this long and complex journey to rescue hemp for regenerative, contemporary textiles.

Circular Economy Podcast - episode 120 Catherine Weetman: priorities are changing

120 Priorities are changing

People’s priorities are changing, as we realise more stuff doesn’t make us happier– so how can businesses thrive by doing better, with less?
In this episode, Catherine suggests it’s time to bust one of the myths of the modern economy – people don’t want more and stuff! Priorities are changing, people are realising that more stuff doesn’t make us happier. Instead, people are discovering that life is better when we care for, share and treasure our stuff, and what’s more, that’s better for our planet and society.
But this presents a big challenge – a paradox – how can businesses succeed without selling more stuff, every year? Many of the Circular Economy Podcast guests are already doing just that, using circular strategies to thrive by doing better with less.
You probably already have big questions on this. It feels logical to say that new designs and innovations will always make life better, that people want to keep up with trends and the status that comes from having the latest thing,
And of course, that making new products underpins the success of a business … but Catherine shares research and insights from guests in the last series of podcasts to show why we need to question conventional wisdom, and choose alternative strategies that are fit for the current business landscape.

Circular Economy Podcast Ep119 BONUS Ken Webster - the circular ECONOMY - Part 2

119 BONUS Ken Webster: the circular ECONOMY! Part 2

This is the 2nd part of the 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.

Circular Economy Podcast - artwork for episode 119 - Ken Webster - the circular ECONOMY

119 Ken Webster: the circular ECONOMY!

This episode is different – I’m talking to Ken Webster and we explore some big themes and concepts for a critical part of the circular economy that often gets ignored – the economy itself!
Catherine says: Ken Webster is right up there as one of my circular economy heroes, and is widely acknowledged as one of the foremost thinkers in the field. From 2010 – 2018, Ken was Head of Innovation for the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, shaping current concepts of a ‘circular economy’.. Ken also co-wrote the book that first opened my eyes to the circular economy back in 2011 – Sense and Sustainability, co-written with Craig Johnson.
One of Ken’s best-known books, The Circular Economy: A Wealth of Flows, relates the connections between systems thinking, economic and business opportunity and the transition to a circular economy.
I’m very keen to read one of Ken’s most recent books, co-written with Alex Duff. Ken and Alex use a storytelling approach based on the The Wonderful Wizard of Oz to offer a new and compelling narrative about the future direction of our economy, calling for macro-economic system redesign. It’s called The Wonderful Circles of Oz: A Circular Economy Story – you’ll find links in the shownotes.
Ken’s written several more thought-provoking works on the circular economy, including ABC+D: Creating a Regenerative Circular Economy for All – also co-written with Craig Johnson, and we mention some of these as we go along.
This was a wide-ranging conversation about system-scale issues and concepts. I tried my best to keep up with Ken’s thinking as we explored some of the big ideas he has been working on, including:
• A Universal Basic Dividend – not to be confused with UBI, or Universal Basic Income. We discuss why a Universal Basic Dividend would be a good thing, how it would be funded and where the money would flow to.
• We move onto The Commons – what that really means, and how it could be better accommodated in our modern economies, in a meaningful and sustainable way.
• Ken talks about the rentier economy, and rentiers. If you’re not familiar with that term, it’s someone who earns income from capital without working – for example by owning property or land that is rented out to tenants; by owning shares or bonds that pay dividends or interest, and so on.
• We discuss why the economy isn’t working for the vast majority of people around the world, and what’s getting in the way of an ‘economy for all’.
• We talk about some of the signals for change, with people are starting to see the potential of a future with community, connection and caring – caring for each other, and for our Mother Earth. The potential of a future that’s not all about ‘Work, Buy, Consume, Die’.
I’ve split our conversation into two parts – the 2nd part will be out next week as a bonus episode.