climate

Circular economy rebound qualitative vs quantitative

Circular economy rebound – is it always problematic?

Unpacking the tricky topic of ‘circular economy rebound’: when circular solutions end up causing MORE production and consumption, not less. But is it always a problem? I suggest that some forms of circular economy rebound could be a good outcome for people and planet. I bring in research on rebound, and highlight examples of rebound for clothing, mobility, and smartphones.

Circular Economy Podcast Episode 60 – Turning off the tap

Episode 60 Turning off the tap

Every 10th episode, Catherine Weetman looks back at recent conversations and round up some of the insights we’ve heard:
The theme for this episode is turning off the tap. What do I mean by that? One of my favourite metaphors for the linear economy – our system of taking materials, making stuff, using it and then throwing it away. We’re pushing lots of resources in at one end of the pipe – but it gushes out at the end, and there are leaks all the way along the pipe with pollution going into the atmosphere, air, water and soil.

And all of that, of course, is undermining our ability to thrive on this planet.

So what can we do? We’ve got to radically rethink business as usual, to turn off that flow of resources and waste. We need to be regenerative instead of destructive and wasteful.

We need a different approach, so we have products with a life of their own, not just serving a single user. We need objects designed for reuse and resale once someone no longer needs them, or objects available in multi user systems with customers sharing or renting when needed.

In this episode, we unpack this to understand how it works, and why it helps to separate the benefits of products and services from their cost to the global commons.

Good emoji bad emoji

Plastics – the good, the (less) bad and the ugly…

Do ‘headline-grabbing’ initiatives that are just a tiny bit ‘less bad’ risk undermining the circular economy? Instead, should we focus on new systems, products and materials that help regenerate resources, living systems and communities? Regenerative solutions could provide a clearer path forward and encourage people (and business and policymakers) to ‘do more good’.
These recent examples of plastic circular economy initiatives illustrate what we could describe as the good, the (less) bad and the ugly. They show why it’s important to consider the ‘big picture’ for circular and sustainability ideas, so you can think about how to maximise positive impact and avoid unforeseen consequences (and reputational risk!).