Does the circular economy support sustainability? This two-part series begins by unpacking the root causes of the ‘wicked problems’ causing our sustainability crises, and then calls out some of the false solutions emerging from businesses around the world.
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.
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!).
Save our Soil conference| English Pastoral | Podcast: Joanna Bingham of Footprints Africa | Podcast index | Drawdown guide
How can the circular economy add social value? | Knowledge Hub 3.0 | Finance saving our planet | The fingerprint of human influence on our… Read More »Insights #28 – transforming social value
Companies and governments are making transformational net-zero climate-change commitments – what’s creating the momentum and how can circular economy approaches help you get there?
I’m thinking of this decade as the Transformational Twenties: transforming our thinking about what’s important, and how we CAN make it happen. This theme runs through my recommendations for this week. I’ve changed (transformed?!) the format of the newsletters too…
Christian van Maaren is co-founder of Excess Materials Exchange, based in the Netherlands. Excess Materials Exchange is saving the planet by running a dating site, which at first sounds improbable, and then sounds intriguing!
Christian believes the circular economy is one of the fastest and cheapest ways to achieve the Paris climate goals, and we hear how Excess Materials Exchange helps customers measure the value of their exchange options, in financial, environmental and social impacts.
Christian tells us about the kinds of companies and materials they match up, using a combination of blockchain and AI, and how they actively match supply & demand for materials to ensure high value re-use.
Podcast: Sharing tools and skills | Resource security | Fast fashion’s real price | Circular manufacturing in low income countries | Why IKEA is switching to circular | #buildbackbetter | Circular Design Cards
Close the Loop | Linear risk & circularity gaps | Circularity for human development | Happy Hustle giveaway | Hot Air