Across Africa, and much of the world, end-of-use plastic is not collected for proper recycling. Instead, it is burnt; ends up in drains, sewers, fields and rivers; or in unprotected landfill, allowing toxins and microplastics to leak out. This is one of the hidden costs of our modern ‘linear’ economy – take, make and waste. Four entrepreneurs are turning that plastic waste into value – creating jobs for both disadvantaged and skilled people, improving local environments, and helping people find a purpose. We dig into their business models and hear their top tips for circular startups
Eco Brixs | lessons from social entrepreneurs in Africa | 30 under 30 | Don’t try to fix the problem
In this episode, we focus on the ‘how’ of making your business circular, looking at the different ways people were getting to grips with the problem they wanted to solve. We also get an update on the new subscription model for ApparelXchange, and get some ‘bonus’ circular economy examples from David Greenfield (aka Dr Resources of the Circular Economy Club London).
How do we find a linear problem that needs a circular economy solution? Bec Evans, author of How to Have a Happy Hustle: the complete guide to making your ideas happen” suggests starting with what’s bugging you, and become ‘avid problem collectors’. We look at how our guests in the last series hunted down their linear problems and got clear on what the customer needed – the ‘job to be done’ in ‘Lean’ terms.
Renting clothing and fashion is going mainstream. We look at why it is better for people and planet, and how Eve Kekeh, founder of Bundlee, built a successful babywear rental subscription business by helping parents choose high-quality, sustainable options and get more value for money. We unpack the linear economy mindset of ‘sell more’, explaining why it’s a race to the bottom…
Nancy Bocken co-founded the company HOMIE, which is developing circular services for pay-per-use home appliances, starting with washing machines. Nancy has an academic background, and she is professor and research coordinator in Sustainable Business Management and Practice at Lund University in Sweden.
We talk about how Homie got started, and how the service works. Nancy tells about some of the challenges they faced, and the benefits of pay-per-use for customers, the business, and our environment.
Nancy gives us some great tips for those of you thinking about circular projects or startups, and we hear how Homie has built relationships with its customers so that a lot of the marketing is by word-of-mouth.
Elaine Kerr, Deputy Director of International Synergies Northern Ireland talks about industrial symbiosis and how it ‘oils the wheels’ of the circular economy. Elaine explains what industrial symbiosis is, and how International Synergies provides research and facilitation for ‘resource matching’, helping organisations of all types and sizes.
We discuss the multiple benefits of industrial symbiosis: reducing waste and pollution (and associated costs); creating valuable new by-products, jobs, and social value; together with securing access to future resources by setting up local ‘ecosystems’ for materials.
Creating new, local feedstocks from redundant resources can also bring widespread benefits for the local economy, helping improve economic prosperity and resilience. We talk about changing attitudes and the ways young entrepreneurs and social enterprises are creating value from what we used to think of as ‘waste’.