Circular Economy and the overlooked key factor
February 7, 2022
But, why should we have the Circular Economy in mind when trying to innovate?
Simply put, so that we all stand a better chance of survival given our planet boundaries; which, by the way, is the overlooked key factor in many occasions.
The full scale deployment of a CE proposes a paradigm shift towards a regenerative economic system that can certainly be facilitated by the introduction of new technologies, but is not the sole fundamental driver. It requires innovative ways of rethinking traditional business models that bear in mind our environment’s boundaries.
To understand the importance of circularity, we could use the 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), agreed by the UN in 2015, as a case study.
Most will agree that the SDGs are one of the top strategies to bring emerging and established economies around a shared blueprint aiming at the interests of people and the planet. However, when taking a closer look one might see an apparent conflict between the three ‘environmental’ goals (SDGs 13, 14 and 15) and the other 14 ‘socio-economic’ goals. Why is this? The planet’s boundaries are the answer.
This statement takes us a little further back in time, to 2009, when Johan Rockström, Joint Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, along with other scientists, came up with “The 9 planetary boundaries” when trying to delineate the “Safe Operating Space for Humanity”.
- For those of you interested, Netflix released in 2021 the documentary “Breaking Boundaries. The science of our planet”, where David Attenborough, writer, and naturalist noted for his innovative educational television programs, explains this achievement.
Based on this concept, it was already highlighted in 2013 the need to give priority to the environmental goals from the SDGs: ‘so that today’s advances in development are not lost as our planet ceases to function for the benefit of a global population’.
– In other words, it won’t matter what we do unless we take care of our planet’s health.
To measure our progress, there is one key indicator that I’m sure you are already familiar with: emissions. We must not only cut them by half every decade, but also draw down those that are already in the planet.
Fortunately there are already initiatives being carried out and that we can start working on even from a personal way of living. Here there are 3 major actions that have been put forward to be implemented in the short run:
As one of the most cost-effective and achievable solution with more than just carbon absorption benefits.
2. Changing our diet
A more flexitarian, plant-based diet would be the single most important way of contributing to save the planet, steering towards a safe operational space in climate, biodiversity, land, water, nitrogen & phosphorus boundaries.
3. Circular Economy
A world without waste would bring us back to a safe space within all boundaries. Turning a linear system into a circular one by designing products with raw materials that can be recovered.
Becoming circular, what does it entail?
A circular economy is “a model of production and consumption”, which is based on the preservation of economic and environmental value of the products at their highest level, as long as possible through sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing and, finally, recycling.
But implementing the CE is not small task as it can hardly be obtained through attempts by individuals. Instead, it involves a systemic change in companies, industries, and economies through radical shifts in societal values, norms, and behaviors.
In other words, advancing in the CE implies the need for cooperation and collaboration among stakeholders to foster innovation, including public administration, management and regulatory entities and customers.
So, when working in any given project, we should embrace the challenge of thinking how innovation could support the reformulation of an entire economic practice and relationships within an industrial network.
Here is where Byld can have the biggest impact: coupling the fundamentals of the circular economy to our business innovation skills, becoming a leading part of the transformation we have to undergo.
Our experience with different corporations has given us the ability to understand a multitude of industries and to establish connections between them. The key is to align this cross-industry knowledge with the initial understanding of the needs of the corporation.
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