News

Join our Live Online Circular Economy Q&A

Emma Upton

The full Q&A dialogue is available below this introduction – the questions and responses will remain on the website so do please keep adding your own questions and comments. A handy summary of the key points raised during the session can be found here.

Join Corporate Citizenship and a brilliant guest panel for a live online circular economy Q&A.

Sustainability consultants Corporate Citizenship will be joined by BT, BAM Construct, Riversimple and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation for a live online circular economy Q&A session on Thursday 8th January.

Following the release of Corporate Citizenship’s paper – Ahead of the Curve: How the Circular Economy can unlock Business Value and subsequent feedback, we are delighted to be hosting this Q&A session, in which participants can submit their circular economy related questions ahead of, or during, the Q&A session.

We will focus on four key themes, these are as follows:

 

  • Theme 1- Examples of innovative companies working towards the circular economy and how it’s making a difference to their business.
  • Theme 2- Ways to identify which circular interventions are best for your company/getting started
  • Theme 3- How can we start developing circular economy business models?
  • Theme 4- Exploring how to tackle key challenges /best steps forward

 

Meet the guest Q&A panel

Here are the industry experts who will be on hand to answer your circular economy questions.

Steven Moore – Net Good Consultant, BT

Steven for website

Patrick Andrews – Author, Business Advisor and former Head of Governance, Riversimple

Patrick for website

James O’Toole – Global Partnerships Manager, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation

James for website

Megan DeYoung – Director, Corporate Citizenship

megan for website

Jesse Putzel – Senior Sustainability Manager, BAM Construct UK

Jesse for website

Facilitators

Karin Laljani – Managing Director, Corporate Citizenship

Karin Laljani for website

Arpita Raksit – Consultant and author of Ahead of the Curve, Corporate Citizenship

arpita for website

 

Click here to find out more about our panellists and the great work they are already doing to create movement towards the circular economy.

The Q&A session will take place in the comments box beneath this editorial post, this will run as a typed chat/posting conversation.

How to get involved:

  • Type your question into the comments box below – these will not show automatically but will instead be shared as the Q&A proceeds.
  • Tweet your question to @CCitizenship using #askcircular
  • Email questions directly to us at mail@corporate-citizenship.com

 

Then join us live on the 8th January between 4:00PM – 5:00PM GMT when our panel will be answering as many of your questions as possible. Questions and answers will be typed into the comments boxes below.

We look forward to receiving your questions!

 

Comments (127)

  1. Jesse Putzel says:

    Looking forward to a stimulating discussion and looking forward to hearing about people’s experiences and thoughts on moving a more circular economy forward.

  2. Steve Lee says:

    The Chartered Institution of Wastes Mgt wants to work with partners to build understanding of Circular Economy and the importance of resource efficiency / resource security into a wide range of undergraduate courses – we need to turn out a new generation of professionals in all sectors – planners, engineers, designer, retailers, manufacturers – ready to embrace CE concepts and put them into action. How do you think this could be done?

  3. Steve Lee says:

    Waste Management is just a part of the CE world. What sort of a relationship and flow of information do businesses want / need from us to help deliver improved resource efficiency. As an example: are you aware of the “Electronic Duty of Care” – a web based FREE tool to help with waste compliance and info on your own resource flows? Were looking for a value-added relationship!

  4. Kevin Agnew says:

    Hi, looks like an interesting Q&A. A couple of questions from me:
    1. How do the companies report on their activities relating to circular economy? In particular how the benefits of the work are quantified and reported.
    2. Can the concept of circular economy be applied to all industries? Or does it lend itself more readily to manufacturing companies than, for example, financial services?

    Many thanks,

  5. Steve Lee says:

    The EU Circular Economy package developed under the previous commissioner Potocnik was pulled from the EU work programme in December. The new Commissioner Vella has promised further proposals from the Commission in 2015 with a “broader and more ambitious approach”. Was pulling the original package wise?….and what do you think would be “broader” and “more ambitious”?

  6. Justin French-Brooks says:

    My question: circularity could be a significant challenge for consumer goods companies, where consumers increasingly choose to circulate used-but-still-perfectly-usable products amongst themselves without any involvement of the brand-owner.

    What future do brand-owners, retailers and consumer goods companies have if we do in fact increasingly choose to keep products in use for much longer, and do it by online exchange (e.g. Freegle), neighbourhood exchange (e.g. garage sale) or third sector exchange (e.g. charity shops)?

    Justin French-Brooks
    Consultant, Word to Dialogue

  7. Franzis Wimmer says:

    @Steven Moore, BT: “The Better Future Supplier Forum (BFSF) process is designed to assess, develop, deliver and recognise sustainable supply chains.” After assessing the different suppliers, how does BT deal with suppliers that are performing under average or even show an infringement of the law of the country it is producing in?

  8. Franzis Wimmer says:

    @Steven Moore, BT: “The BFSF process awards participating suppliers a rating Bronze, Silver and Gold. The rating is awarded after considering a supplier against a wide ranging series of assessment areas which compares a supplier’s approach, management processes and performance levels against global best practice.”
    Question: The criteria of the Gold rating includes lowest waste, lowest emissions, lowest energy usage, most recyclable and most sustainable, all of which are environmental criteria. For a truly sustainable supply chain management approach, it is essential to also consider social criteria, such as respecting human rights. Is BT planning on including also social and/or governance criteria in its sustainable supply chain ratings?

  9. Charlie Hodkinson-Ashford Charlie Ashford says:

    Is it possible for a business to go circular on its own? Or is it something that really requires collaboration with other companies, governments and so on?

  10. edda says:

    I m from Argentina and I m glad to be in contact with you.
    ¿How circular economy could be applied in latin america countries?

  11. Welcome! In just under an hour we will be joined online by our fantastic panel of experts for a live Q&A session. This is taking place in the form of a typed chat/posting conversation in the comments section below.

    Guidance for the Q&A

    Post a question by typing into the comments box below and leaving your name and email address. Your email address will not show on the website, this will remain private.

    If you would like to display the name of your organisation please include this in brackets next to your name. E.g. Emma Upton (Corporate Citizenship).

    There may be a slight delay between entering a new question and this showing on the website – this is due to us following four loose themes to allow a structure to the Q&A. Your question will be posted as we cover the relevant topic area.

    Please keep refreshing the page to update new comments and replies.

    If you would like to reply or respond to a specific question, please hit the reply button. If you would like to post a brand new question, please post this in the comment box, this will begin a new text box.

    Apologies in advance if we do not get a chance to answer your question within our hour session. We will keep this session open to allow the dialogue to continue after the Q&A session has ended.

    Thank you to everyone who has submitted questions already.

  12. Welcome everyone to our live Circular Economy Q&A!

    We hope to get through as many questions as possible during the next hour so without further delay, let’s start by asking the panel to provide a quick intro and then we’d like to kick off with the following question:

    Circular Economy (CE) is a buzzword that’s very in vogue at the moment so let’s take a moment to define it. What does CE mean to you? Do you think it’s got staying power for the long-term? What makes it different from other sustainability trends that come and go so quickly?

    1. Jesse Putzel says:

      Hi, Jesse from BAM here.

      I think circular economy is a means to an end… an approach which allows us to achieve a more sustainable, equitable, profitable and ultimately successful and happy society… it’s not a catch all, but it is a really good way of describing / encapsulating many of the issues we need to be addressing in business as well as society at large. I think outside of the sustainability community, very few people understand or know much about the term ‘circular economy’… to us, it has very much become a buzz word, but it’s not reached the general public. The principles of circular economy however, I think are very easy for people to buy into if they’re offered up in the right way… less waste, less hassle, more of what you want, better quality etc… all positive! Which should give it longevity.

  13. James O'Toole says:

    Hi everyone, James here. Looking forward to a lively discussion!

  14. James O'Toole says:

    I’m the Global Partnerships Manager for the Ellen MacArthur Foundation which was established in 2010 with the goal to accelerate the transition to a circular economy.

    The Global Partnership programme supports pioneering organisations to build organisational capacity, develop circular business models and catalyse circular innovation at scale, whilst sharing insights and lessons learned with the wider business community.

  15. Patrick Andrews says:

    For me, what makes the Circular Economy so powerful and different is that it is a positive way of expressing the ideas around sustainability and business that too often get stuck in negativity – use less, do less harm etc. Business thrives on positivity and I like how CE is positive. Also it is a broad church, that is inclusive of many initiatives.

    1. Patrick Andrews says:

      Oh, and I am Patrick Andrews. i am freelance business adviser and have been long time associated in various roles with Riversimple, a radical eco-car company.

  16. Ryan Adkins says:

    Hello Panel,

    My question has to do with this core belief: If you want to change corporations, you first have to change the consumers. I was hoping that someone could comment on the most effective (non-marketing) methods for changing consumers behavior to be more in line with a circular economy perspective.

    Thank You.

    1. Patrick Andrews says:

      My sense is that it is a co-evolution – businesses and customers. Henry Ford said if i asked customers what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse! Businesses can lead by example. In the UK, B&Q and Homebase over many years educated us to do home improvements ourselves. Businesses need to lead the way again by living and breathing the CE!

  17. James O'Toole says:

    To answer the first question…the circular economy is a regenerative industrial system designed to overcome the current “take-make-dispose” economic model’s resource intensity. It ensures, through careful product design and innovative business models, that technical and biological materials continuously flow within the economy, safeguarding valuable stocks and decoupling growth from finite resources.

    In essence, it aims to preserve the inherent value associated with the materials, labour, energy and capital embodied in a product (e.g. reuse of a mobile phone, remanufacturing of an engine part, bio-refining chemical feedstocks from food waste etc.)

    1. James O'Toole says:

      As obvious as this sounds, a business cannot be sustainable in the financial sense of the word unless it is commercially viable. A critical determinant of success for any corporate strategy is the validity of its business case.

    2. continues from James The circular economy is a framework for value creation and indeed preservation. The Foundation has published a series of economic reports, with analysis by McKinsey & Company, establishing a clear framework and economic case for a transition to circular economy. The reports demonstrated an annual trillion dollar opportunity globally in net energy and material cost savings for companies making the transition to circular economy. Additional benefits include increased supply chain resilience, revenue growth, innovation, and job creation.

  18. Steven Moore says:

    Hi everyone, I’m Steven Moore and help set BT’s environmental strategy, working in the Net Good team.

    I think we’re incredibly adaptable as humans and are constantly innovating our way out of shortages of resources. I believe the idea of a circular economy will continue to grow stronger as volatility continues in resource prices and availability. You can see it as an evolution of the concept of recycling to be much broader and cover the sharing economy, upcycling, downcycling, re-use, and more.

  19. Megan DeYoung Megan DeYoung says:

    Hello everyone! I’m a Director at Corporate Citizenship.

    In some ways CE isn’t a new concept as it build on things like LCA. What is new is that today the concept takes a more holistic view of how we think about take, make, waste, and dispose.

  20. Jonathan Turner says:

    A number of organisations now seem to say they have circular economy related plans but in many cases they seem to be waste management and recycled content plans/actions that have been rebranded. This is a bit like organisations who take an energy management plan and call it a carbon strategy (or even a sustainability strategy). What would you say are the hallmarks of a true circular economy plan and what key actions or measures would you expect to see in it?

  21. Thanks guys, the discussion will loosely follow four themes as above. Let’s move onto theme 1

    THEME 1: EXAMPLES OF COMPANY INNOVATIONS TOWARDS THE CIRCULAR ECONOMY AND HOW IT’S MAKING A DIFFERENCE TO BUSINESS

  22. What strategies are you using to apply circular economy principles to your company and how are these working for you?

    1. Jesse Putzel says:

      We’re still very much investigating and testing what could work for us still. We are very interested in and have started to look at service vs ownership and linking this with lifecycle thinking.

      A big issue for us is getting better information, about the buildings we build, what’s already in existence, the impacts and the potential value. A key strategy for us is improving our intelligence of the materials that go into our buildings and what happens to them over their entire life and this links very much with our development of building information modelling.

      There is also a huge amount of ‘real life’ research for us to do, so a lot at moment is about making connections, growing networks, discussing new approaches and identifying and trying to get going with some applied research ‘in the field’ i.e. on live building projects.

    2. James O'Toole says:

      As the Global Partnerships Manager for the Foundation, my role is to work with our strategic business partners and support them pioneer circular innovation at scale within their respective industries. Each of our Global Partners have embarked upon ambitious journeys towards becoming more circular…some are more advanced than others…each have their own unique set of challenges and opportunities…and as such, have tailored their strategies to their specific business contexts.

    3. Steven Moore says:

      At BT we are starting to apply principles of the circular economy to the way we are doing business. We were a founding member of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and are working with them on several projects looking into improving take-back rates of consumer equipment and enhanced recycling of plastics. And we currently have an MBA student on an Ellen MacArther scholarship carrying out research for our Consumer business on improving refurbishment rates of our equipment.

      One example of a big change we’ve made is the way we manufacture our Home Hub. We’ve flattened the design and changed the packaging so it can be posted through a letterbox. This saves both the environmental impact and inconvenience of trips to the post office.

  23. What are the best success stories of 2014? Silvia Leahu-Aluas MSME, MBA Sustainable Manufacturing Consultant

    1. Jesse Putzel says:

      There are lots of companies doing really interesting things. I don’t think there’s anything totally game changing as yet – but lots of potential.

      For us, companies like Delta Developments in the Netherlands are doing very interesting things from a property perspective with their Park 2020 development near Schiphol airport. The whole business park is designed around cradle to cradle (C2C) concepts, so that buildings become ‘material banks’ with a net value rather than a net cost of demolition at end of life. There is also a massive focus through the C2C principles on health and well-being and so buildings have been designed to be healthier and better for occupants… good for people and for business.

      There are also an increasing number of companies coming up with really interesting material innovations. Ecovative have become quite well known in the last year or so with their mushroom based insulation products, where they grow the materials used for packaging or even for use in buildings. There are similar companies like Biomason, who are ‘growing’ bricks and developing their manufacturing processes so they can be set up easily anywhere in the world, using waste by products as a raw material.

      1. Ian Wood says:

        Interesting. I believe that more businesses need to take back full LC ownership. I’m old enough to remember the days that we didn’t buy TVs, phones etc. We hired them and the full cost if ownership (repair, reuse and recycling) was with business not the consumer. Focussed business’s minds on quality etc….

  24. What’s the most inspiring example from a company adopting these ideas that you have heard of?

    1. Patrick Andrews says:

      I am constantly inspired by my friends at Riversimple who have taken the ideas of CE very far indeed. For example, they won’t sell cars but will only lease them, thus aligning the interests of manufacturer with those of the customers and the planet.

      1. James O'Toole says:

        … I’ve recently come across a company called ATMI who have a cleantech solution for eWaste…their eVOLV process can extract most metals from the circuit boards at 99% extraction efficiency with greater than 99% purity. The electronic components from the boards can be reused or sold. The process itself is non-toxic with a low energy usage…considering a tonne of old mobile phones yields approx. 300g of gold, I’d say this is nigh on alchemy! Beyond recycling of precious metals, it also opens up the possibility of parts harvesting PCB components. This kind of technology could be a real game changer in terms of addressing the growing problem of EEE waste streams.

        http://www.atmi-evolv.com/the-evolv-process

        1. Megan DeYoung Megan DeYoung says:

          As part of the BSR conference there was a hackathon in Brooklyn, New York, and teams of innovative people created ideas for how to tackle big, hairy world issues. A project that had CE principles was about reducing food waste by closing information gaps. The idea wasn’t likely to fly with the general public, but the group was thinking outside the box with the solution proposed.

  25. Stephanie (University of Cambridge MST student) says:

    Hello,
    the luxury sector’s argued compatibility with sustainability has been frequently debated in academic literature. Could you provide your thoughts on the luxury sector’s potential contribution to the circular economy? What would you consider as the sector’s unique barriers, if any?
    thanks

  26. moving on to THEME 2: WAYS TO IDENTIFY WHICH CIRCULAR INTERVENTIONS ARE BEST FOR YOU COMPANY/HOW TO GET STARTED

  27. Broadly speaking, the circular economy can be categorised into areas around materials, product design, product-service models, innovation on consumer behaviour– how should companies identify what area is most suited to them?

    1. Patrick Andrews says:

      In part this is a function of how much impact you can have and how much effort it will entail. Ideally in a circular economy you seek win/win so you may be able to help your bottom line and serve the wider community.

    2. Megan DeYoung Megan DeYoung says:

      Companies need to change the way they are thinking about their business in order to identify what CE opportunity is best for them. Three practical steps are: 1) look inside your company (e.g. conduct a supply chain review or LCA) 2) look outside your company (e.g. benchmark yourself, do horizon scanning) 3) look at the bigger picture through a wider lens (e.g revisit your purpose).

      Veolia is a great example of a company that revisited their purpose recently and from that process re envisioned their business to align with CE principles.

    3. James O'Toole says:

      The circular economy requires a business to take a systems level view of its operations in order to understand how it can optimally ‘close the loop’ encompassing all aspects of their organisation (e.g. material selection & product design, business model innovation, reverse cycle capabilities, cross industry collaboration etc.)

      In terms of the circular activities to be pursued, economics should dictate which of the inner or outer loops hold the most promise in terms of value creation. For heavy industry this may be remanufacturing, for FMCG this may mean reusable packaging or recycling. In reality most companies will have a large portfolio of assets ranging from production lines to office furniture and product packaging so the optimal path for each asset should be decided on its own merit.

  28. Tassilo von Hirsch says:

    Good afternoon,

    Given that the Circular Economy offers financial incentives for businesses and clear environmental benefits which in turn further affect companies’ bottom lines, why is industry, despite some promising signs, so slow to scale this up fully? And what do you think is the best way of bringing in this transition – will it happen bottom-up as stakeholder pressure and the need for greater efficiency starts to count, or do you think governmental regulation, subsidies and/or punishment is the way forward?

    Many thanks in advance for your answers,

    Tassilo

  29. Are some operational departments more difficult to convince than others? How are you getting around this?

    1. Jesse Putzel says:

      I think commercial / financial departments are one of the hardest (buts that’s always been the case with sustainability)… mainly as there’s a shift in mindset needed for some services / products. For us, it could mean less upfront profit but more long term business. Taking the longer term position is still a big challenge to get accross. We are making foo progress though and our own in house property development company for instance see the value of CE in their commercial speculative developments.

      1. That’s interesting jesse, how is BAM trying to encourage this long term thinking with finance and commercial?

        1. Jesse Putzel says:

          Well it’s about trying to develop that long term business case. For us, there’s still a lot of research to do (which is ongoing) around where the potential value lies. With our property development company, they could see the value in offering a ‘service model’ where a supplier takes responsibility for products / materials over their life as it would reduce the impact of future changes needed between tenants in a building.

  30. A number of organisations now seem to say they have circular economy related plans but in many cases they seem to be waste management and recycled content plans/actions that have been rebranded. This is a bit like organisations who take an energy management plan and call it a carbon strategy (or even a sustainability strategy). What would you say are the hallmarks of a true circular economy plan and what key actions or measures would you expect to see in it? (Jonathan Turner)

    1. Patrick Andrews says:

      I think as a panel we agree that this a really challenging question. It reminds me of the government that announces a new investment programme which is really a re-hash of existing ones. To me, embracing a circular economy is about a change of mindset, and that will inevitably be accompanied by new measures, new processes and new ways of doing things. If it is just business as usual, then you can call it what you like but it won’t make it a genuine CE measure.

    2. James O'Toole says:

      I would recommend considering a number of strategic focus areas when developing a CE implementation roadmap such as:

      – Inspire & engage leadership
      – Build capacity across organisation
      – Support lighthouse projects
      – Embed circular thinking into policy and process
      – Measure circularity indicators
      – Collaborate within and across industry
      – Communicate success stories

  31. CE principles seem much easier to embed if you are a small start-up. As a large multinational we are unlikely to be making vast strategic changes any time soon- what do you think are the key CE principles that can be applied to a MNC without having to take such radical changes? Could it be applied at the product level for example?

    1. Patrick Andrews says:

      I think this is true of any innovation. Certainly in Riversimple we found it a lot easier to be really radical to start with a blank slate. Perhaps it is as much a question of how to create space within the corporate environment to be experimental while still doing your day job. This will vary from company to company and individual to individual.

    2. James O'Toole says:

      Indeed a small start up has the advantage of starting from a blank page with little or no legacy issues or forms of linear lock in to contend with.

      The best case studies we at the Foundation have observed to date all share a common characteristic…they integrate circular thinking into all aspects of their organisation (e.g. material selection & product design, business model innovation, reverse cycle capabilities, cross industry collaboration etc.)

      Having said that, trying to change the strategic direction of a MNC is clearly challenging and complex so it is important to identify an appropriate lighthouse pilot to test and validate what strategy works best for the business in the first instance. Pilots help inform strategy development by providing useful insights and experiential learning prior to scaling the model during the subsequent implementation phase. As with any change programme, look for the low hanging fruit to register quick wins and build momentum.

    3. Steven Moore says:

      For BT it is a challenge and we’re having to approach it in several ways. We’ve developed a checklist for our product managers called ‘Designing our Tomorrow’. This asks key questions such as the energy efficiency of the product, the level of recycled material and how it is packaged to get product managers thinking about these issues. We still have a long way to go though, and many challenges including matching the quality and price requirements of the business.

      Key is the education and awareness of the product team and suppliers. We have regular conversations with suppliers through our Better Future Supplier Forum to help improve their sustainability – this is unusual I think and relies on a certain amount of trust between parties. We also run an annual Game Changing Challenge with suppliers to brainstorm ideas to improve the environmental sustainability of our products. And we invest in funding prototypes from our central research fund. It helps that we have people within the business that are advocates and champion changes.

  32. Monika Ruzicka says:

    In which areas is the circular economy most likely achievable?

  33. Emily M, says:

    Q. Where do we see the CE aligning with company values but also fitting into enforcement of policies like Extended Producer Responsibility for the built environment and/or perishable products?

  34. Edward Dodge says:

    Do you all associate the term ‘Zero Waste’ with the Circular Economy? I see them as two sides of the coin, but rarely see the terms used together in the literature.

    1. Jesse Putzel says:

      For us it’s definitley part and parcel of the same approach and ultimate end game… although we’d prefer to not talk about waste going forward, just resources… I heard a great saying at the last CE100 summit that ‘waste is just resource in the wrong place… and this really sums it up for me.

  35. Thanks guys, moving onto theme 3: Theme 3 DEVELOPING CIRCULAR BUSINESS MODELS

  36. We’ve had a number of questions come through about which industries are more likely to transitions, this one sums it up quite well: Is it easier for some industries to transition from a linear to circular model than others? Who is it easier for? What should the ‘others’ do?

    1. Jesse Putzel says:

      I’m biased but I think the buildings / construction sector is one of the hardest due to the long term nature of the ‘product’ in question and the sheer number of stakeholders in the value chain… and there are a lot of split incentives. Products with a shorter life, which already rely on ‘high value’ materials, should be the easiest to transition. If a material is currently seen as abundant and cheap, it’s much harder to make the longer term business case for a ‘circular’ approach (at the moment anyway). As ‘one of the others’ I think it’s just a case of tackling it one step at a time and really engaging with your key stakeholders who will help to achieve an eventual transition

    2. James O'Toole says:

      Certainly there are some industry characteristics which lend themselves to circular business models more so than others e.g. industries which are predominantly B2B, with a relatively stable product design and high material value. In such industries, circular activities such as remanufacturing are well established e.g. auto and heavy machinery.

      However, our second economic report demonstrated that even within the FMCG sector there is huge upside potential for circular innovation. ..which could be worth as much as USD 700 billion in consumer goods material savings alone, and also highlights added benefits in terms of land productivity and potential job creation.

    3. Megan DeYoung Megan DeYoung says:

      Industries with a manufacturing component have a history of working on LCA and cradle-to-cradle and similar actions that are precursors to CE. These companies are continuing to take action. Here the environmental and financial benefits are pretty easy to quantify.

      What is intriguing to me is how personal behavior is driving business models. A growing number of people are making everyday decisions based on social and environmental impacts. Liquid Space is considering behavior, specifically how more people are working independently and want occasional access to office space, but not permanent office space. Liquid Space has created a company that offers very short-term rental space in several big cities in the US.

  37. The luxury sector’s argued compatibility with sustainability has been frequently debated in academic literature. Could you provide your thoughts on the luxury sector’s potential contribution to the circular economy? What would you consider as the sector’s unique barriers, if any? (Stephanie – University of Cambridge MST Student)

    1. Patrick Andrews says:

      I heard Vivienne Westwood made a good case for buying less clothes but better ones. Surely part of the circular economy will be using less and making things last longer – this can be where luxury goods come in. Also, someone said that the new luxury is having everything you need and nothing you don’t. At Riversimple that’s the sort of luxury we aim to offer our customers.

  38. There are lots of interesting design concepts appearing, such as biomimicry, which could change the way we design, build and use things. Is it not more important to concentrate on and get this end of things right before tackling the bigger picture?

    1. Patrick Andrews says:

      How change happens is mysterious – we each have to work out where we can intervene. For some it will be cracking issues at the design conceptual level, others will deal at a more abstract level and others will simply go and do things – and we will all learn from each other.

    2. Jesse Putzel says:

      Design is clearly massively important yes and is fundamental. But CE is also about systems change (Jame’s may have something to add on that) so I do think you need to think about the bigger picture. The right design will enable the circular approach to be taken but you need to put in place the mechanisms then to realise the end goal.

  39. @Steven Moore, BT: “The BFSF process awards participating suppliers a rating Bronze, Silver and Gold. The rating is awarded after considering a supplier against a wide ranging series of assessment areas which compares a supplier’s approach, management processes and performance levels against global best practice.”
    Question: The criteria of the Gold rating includes lowest waste, lowest emissions, lowest energy usage, most recyclable and most sustainable, all of which are environmental criteria. For a truly sustainable supply chain management approach, it is essential to also consider social criteria, such as respecting human rights. Is BT planning on including also social and/or governance criteria in its sustainable supply chain ratings? CSR Europe

    1. Steven Moore says:

      Yes, we already do. Companies are not allowed to participate unless they have an good record on what we consider to be basic sustainability criteria, such as human rights and anti-bribery corruption measures, however we would also expect suppliers to drive labour standard improvements where needed and engage with their suppliers on this too. We also screen for these across all of our suppliers.

      Interesting that these specific social issues are being brought up. In the context of the circular economy I see social benefits being more from improving access to products by avoiding capital costs eg. the sharing economy; and reducing environmental harm from wasting products and thereby improving health.

      1. Franzis Wimmer says:

        Current developments in sustainable supply chain management suggest that a collaborative approach in supply chain management renders more innovation and sustainability. BT’s BFSF is a great example for that. Is there the possibility that BT might consider taking a corrective action approach, thus also allowing underperforming suppliers to participate, if they commit to improvement.

        1. Steven Moore says:

          Absolutely, we do engage. We do expect law to be applied, however in practice there are areas where we need to work with the supplier to get to the stage where they can meet legal requirements, working hours are a classic example where addressing the root causes of excessive working hours is needed to ensure that this does not repeat.

          Labour shortages following Chinese new year is a common experience, however if the workers want to continue working there because pay/conditions are good then this is less of a problem. We have seen suppliers going from an industry average 50% return rate to 90% + return at this time because they took steps to address and improve working conditions.

          1. Franzis Wimmer says:

            Thank you! I continue to be impressed with BT’s sustainable supply chain management approach and look forward to learning from new developments on the BFSF.

  40. We’ve had a lot of questions about performance/service models; in summary : Product to service models- what are the key differences? what are the benefits to a service model? are their enough service managers involved in the conversation?

    1. Patrick Andrews says:

      At Riversimple we realised that if we design a car to be leased, it will be designed differently – we will want it to last longer, to have less replaceable parts, to be more reliable than if we build a car that will be sold. Likewise will treat our customers differently – we will be forced to be much closer to them, to listen more and interact more. So our service managers won’t be able to get away with not being tuned into customers.

    2. James O'Toole says:

      We would be remiss if we discussed the performance economy without mentioning Walter Stahel…

      http://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/education/resources/videos-posters-and-graphics/walter-stahel-on-the-performance-economy

      1. James O'Toole says:

        a nice example which illustrates the benefits of transitioning to a service model would be Philips Healthcare who offer a fully managed service to their clients

        …so rather than hospitals buying medical equipment with the significant capital expenditure that goes along with it, they can instead buy its performance (e.g. £xxx per number of x-ray scans taken) at variable cost.

        This shift in business model benefits the client as it lowers their entry point for accessing medical equipment, but also improves the quality of service for their patients as Philips is incentivised to ensure the scanners are maintained and operational all the time given equipment performance is now coupled with the revenue stream accruing from their client.

        In addition, now that ownership remains with the OEM, Philips now has a supply of valuable ‘cores’ to be refurbished or remanufactured for subsequent life cycles.

        The hospital reduces its costs, Philips drives bottom line growth, and patients are receiving quality, affordable treatment. I believe this performance based model will become much more prevalent within the industry in the years to come.

    3. Jesse Putzel says:

      It’s a complete shift in mind-set… more or less so depending on the product in questions. Electronics like home appliances or phones especially, are much closer to ‘service’ than others. The key issue from what we’ve seen so far is a shift in the economics and the profit model. In our industry, we’ve been doing PFI for a while now and theoretically it shouldn’t be too big a leap towards a ‘service’ based approach. We’re also currently working with lighting suppliers at the moment to develop a business model for light as a service, with requirements for efficiency improvements over time, so a building effectively becomes lower carbon / more efficient over time, there’s less waste and better quality working environment.

  41. Paddy O'Doors says:

    What are the biggest barriers that are faced with the circular economy?

    1. Patrick Andrews says:

      I am with Donella Meadows, the systems thinker, who said that the hardest change to make in a system is at the mindset level. It is is so embedded in our thinking, our systems, our habits, to treat the planet as an infinitely giving resource for our benefit. So i think the biggest barrier is the way we think. It is also the place where a small change has the biggest impact.

  42. The figures associated with the circular economy are compelling but the jargon associated can be off-putting. How can the circular economy become relatable and attractive to the investor and consumer?

    1. Emily M, says:

      A. Bottom Line. Circular Economy is the new marketing term for past movements land concepts in business and Civil Society like “industrial Ecology” “Zero Waste” etc. In business this translates straight up to: “Cost Avoidance” or Moreso savings ($$$) for Business Leaders “Cost Savings”. All the good social and environmental savings are there after tabulated. Business understands this language. Use it it, and the masses can participate in the new world dialog or what is the Circular Economy. 🙂

    2. Jesse Putzel says:

      I think we simply need more relatable evidence so that we can spell out the benefits at a more personal level… rather than the big global benefits we’ve been talking about. That needs more pilot’s and testing of approaches.

    3. Patrick Andrews says:

      A great question. I said earlier that one strength of the Circular Economy is that it is positive, rather than the usual “sustainable development” stuff which seems to be about doing less harm. But we still haven’t managed to find language that is easily accessible to others. I believe that much of the thinking behind the CE is plain common sense – so maybe we shouldn’t get hung up on language, and even avoid any labelling or jargon. Rather we should just say we are doing this because it is the right thing to do, and let the benefits speak for themselves.

    4. Steven Moore says:

      Yes, I totally agree. We wanted to engage with our consumers so when we made changes to our home hub we decided to explain it by making a pop-rap video:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3HHx0fDecUU

  43. How do the companies report on their activities relating to circular economy? In particular how the benefits of the work are quantified and reported, Kevin Agnew, Reed Elsevier

    1. Megan DeYoung Megan DeYoung says:

      The temptation with CE can be to make the story rather technical sounding and possibly throw in a bunch of data. Data is great and can be compelling, but needs to be balanced with the qualitative – why did you do this and what were the results.

      With any reporting – CE or other – it’s important to think about your audience – what do they care about? If it’s the lay person distill it down. If it’s a technical audience you can break out some jargon.

      As with all stories, remember it’s about communicating multiple times, multiple ways, and in multiple formats. It’s reporting not a report that will help get the word out.

  44. The Chartered Institution of Wastes Mgt wants to work with partners to build understanding of Circular Economy and the importance of resource efficiency / resource security into a wide range of undergraduate courses – we need to turn out a new generation of professionals in all sectors – planners, engineers, designer, retailers, manufacturers – ready to embrace CE concepts and put them into action. How do you think this could be done?

    1. Patrick Andrews says:

      My answer is – go and see the Ellen MacAthur Foundation…

  45. How important are product take back channels in order to ensure companies can profit from goods at the end of their life

    1. Jesse Putzel says:

      Very important. And we also need to understand what the value of products / materials is, how that might change in the future. We need those logistis networks in place though (for instance provided by the waste / resource management community) to make this possible for a wide range of organisations.

    2. Patrick Andrews says:

      At Riversimple we have been thinking hard about this. It is not much use making products theoretically recyclable (as cars must be in the EU) if in practice there aren’t measures in place to take back and recycle the products. Obviously the challenges with this will vary hugely from sector to sector – taking back a car is not the same as taking back mobile phones or carpet tiles.

    3. Steven Moore says:

      This can be key to whether it’s cost-effective to recycle goods that have been sent out. We are finding this with our old hubs as they can’t be posted back to us using postboxes but have to be taken to a post office. I think there is potential for more efficient take-back through local recycling points and Royal Mail backhaul, for example, which could greatly lower the cost. The company Zerobin are doing some interesting work in this area.

  46. to the audience, please note we are receiving and posting your questions as “corporate citizenship” – your name will be appearing at the end of the question!

  47. Just 15 minutes left so we’ll be moving on to theme 4: THEME 4: EXPLORING KEY CHALLENGES/BEST STEPS FORWARD – please post any questions you have around this and our panel will try their best to answer!!

  48. John Clarvis says:

    How can digital startups leverage circular economy? The supply chains are very immaterial, things such as bandwidth, advertising, cloud services. Can these things be made circular?

    1. Megan DeYoung Megan DeYoung says:

      I think the question really is how digital startups can provide CE solutions rather than making their small companies circular. There are an increasing number of start ups working on what is called the internet of things, connecting digital devices so they speak together. The goal of these companies isn’t necessarily to offer a circular solution, but often the solution is circular – for example thermostats you can control remotely to improve energy efficiency.

    2. Steven Moore says:

      I think there’s a great opportunity for digital start-ups to innovate services to enable the circular economy. For example we’ve developed a service called BT Trace that can be used to track product inventory through a supply chain. This can help facilitate take-back and recycling at end of life.

  49. What kind of policy/legislative support do we need to make a transition?

    1. Jesse Putzel says:

      We need to stop talking about waste – there’s lots of legislation around waste, what is and isn’t waste and that can be restrictive. We need policy that supports the focus on resources. Also, in our industry, many have started to talk about greater incentives (tax or others) for re-use of buildings to encourage design for flexibility etc… There should be a preference for refurbishment where possible. We could really do with things like the EU circular economy package (which has been scrapped) which looked to put in place key performance indicators around resource productivity.

  50. Monomita says:

    What are the ways that the food industry could become circular. There are many inputs such as animal feed and fertilisers using ‘virgin’ resources – however, replacing these with recycled ones such as food waste, manure, other waste products is often prohibited by regulations. How are other industries dealing with similar issues?

  51. Without legislation, how can we incentivise companies to internalize the cost of externalities such as harmful waste and pollution?

    1. Patrick Andrews says:

      If we wait for legislation we are doomed. But if we don’t get legislation we are doomed. Maybe we are doomed…

  52. Jan Priebe says:

    Related to food industries and ways of going circular; it seems that there are many opportunities to replace virgin inputs in the agriculture/animal husbandry such as animal feeds and fossil fuel-based fertiliser with recycled ones; i.e. insects, food waste, manure, human waste-based fertiliser. However, often regulation doesn’t exist or prohibits these uses, are there any examples from other industries on how to deal with these issues?

    1. Emily M, says:

      Jan,

      Actually in USA there is ample food diversion to animal feed. Huge cost savings and environmental ones as well. Its a income earning diversion activity here.

      1. Emily M, says:

        Biodigestion efforts for both perishable food, dairy whey, and manure are great examples as well of the circular economy and private sector meeting/working with goals of state and municipalities. Check out Kroger.

    2. Megan DeYoung Megan DeYoung says:

      The food industry is highly regulated so I will avoid the policy commentary. However, companies can think about game changing solutions by looking into the future – 20 or 40 years – to understand what the world could look like as it relates to food and fuel and planning for it now. This requires companies to think differently from their everyday, short-term planning.

      Then I have to assume that policy (eventually) will follow if solutions can be proven safe…

  53. circularity could be a significant challenge for consumer goods companies, where consumers increasingly choose to circulate used-but-still-perfectly-usable products amongst themselves without any involvement of the brand-owner.What future do brand-owners, retailers and consumer goods companies have if we do in fact increasingly choose to keep products in use for much longer, and do it by online exchange (e.g. Freegle), neighbourhood exchange (e.g. garage sale) or third sector exchange (e.g. charity shops)? Justin French-Brooks, Word to Dialogue

    1. Patrick Andrews says:

      You are absolutely right that adopting a circular economy represents a significant threat to anyone aiming to sell more and more stuff to consumers. At Riversimple we have had to re-imagine our relationship with customers into the future. Actually we are encouraged – customers want cars that are last longer and that aren’t expensive to maintain, we can deliver that and charge them over the lifetime of the vehicle. But some businesses may go out of business.

    2. Steven Moore says:

      We find this a lot with our business equipment and some recycling experts have estimated there is a £1bn a year market for our old equipment, the vast majority of which we don’t see. We are looking to take refurbishment in-house for our consumer equipment and I think the business is starting to see the benefits of taking ownership of our kit beyond the end of its life.

  54. Good afternoon,
    Given that the Circular Economy offers financial incentives for businesses and clear environmental benefits which in turn further affect companies’ bottom lines, why is industry, despite some promising signs, so slow to scale this up fully? And what do you think is the best way of bringing in this transition – will it happen bottom-up as stakeholder pressure and the need for greater efficiency starts to count, or do you think governmental regulation, subsidies and/or punishment is the way forward?
    Many thanks in advance for your answers,
    Tassilo
    Tassilo von Hirsch

    1. Patrick Andrews says:

      My sense is that businesses that don’t adapt will be punished by staff dissatisfaction and customer disloyalty and will be outcompeted by new upstarts.

  55. Have there been examples of where you have used interesting collaborations to pursue you circular economy goals?

    1. James O'Toole says:

      Probably our most ambitious collaboration to date would be Project MainStream.

      People and organisations who make and use products, such as ones made out of plastic, don’t currently collaborate. If you could get manufacturers, retailers, recyclers and cities to work together, you could create a system that truly works

      You could design an economy where plastic packaging, for instance, never becomes waste, but re-enters the economy as a valuable biological or technical nutrient.

      This is where Project MainStream comes in. MainStream works by bringing together some of the world’s leading businesses, cities and governments to collectively address areas of stalemate in building the circular economy.

      Look for further updates during Davos!

    2. Emily M, says:

      Small start up business USA side making 100% recycle building products out of egregious polystyrene waste from big box retail. Again, Landfill savings meeting Costfill Savings while repurposing a horrible waste stream component. Check out Best Buy or WMT.

  56. Emily M, says:

    Favorite example of muni eets corporate waste in CE is definitely Reusable Plastic Containers: TALK ABOUT ENVIRONMENTAL SAVINGS not to mention MILLIONS $$ 🙂

  57. Our live chat is now coming to a close but the comment section will remain open for any additional thoughts or questions. A huge thank you to out fantastic panel and to our audience who have helped make this session so interesting. Panellists, it would be great if you could end the discussion with an inspiring question (beginning with ‘what if’ of how you believe the circular economy can transform today’s economy. For example what if the circular economy became the new MBA master-class?

    1. Patrick Andrews says:

      What if we could we could bring love into the heart of our businesses and our marketplaces? This would circulate and affect everything we do. Sounds utopian, I know, but boy what an inspiring thought.

    2. Megan DeYoung Megan DeYoung says:

      What if we move past excuses and truly appreciated the system in which we all operate in order to make change that transforms?

      1. James O'Toole says:

        What if… “the goods of today are the resources of tomorrow at yesterday’s prices” as Walter Stahel suggests?

    3. Jesse Putzel says:

      What if we all focused on doing more good rather than less bad? If we did that for all of our buildings, we’d have no waste, less bills, healtheir and happier lives.

    4. Steven Moore says:

      I think it already is! At least, it seems the most MBAs now include a module or project on sustainability. I think it’s also important to upskill the whole population though. Together we can all make a difference!

  58. Brenton Gieser says:

    Hi there — sorry for missing this. Is there a video or audio version of the panel that I can now access?

    1. Hi Brenton, we will be sharing a Q&A summary shortly, we will share a link to this here. As the Q&A was a text-based dialogue, there is no audio or video available.

  59. Hazel Henderson says:

    I have an article on the” Circular Economy as a Winning Brand ” forthcoming in THE GUARDIAN
    A good conversation !

  60. Aurelio Barbato says:

    First of all, congratulations for all the efforts and initiatives that have been made for you since the beginning and best wishes for the success in yours challenging term; There have been made major and important advances in all aspects. As an issue of shared responsibility – intended that everybody has to be commited to it, it is necessary that national and world leaders, academics, researchers, inventors, and all kind of businessmen and entrepreneurs and all the citizens of any countries be coordinated and convinced to embrace togheter the cause of sustainability and its three – social – environmental and economics pillars; It has to be assumed in a kind of a holistic and global but to be done as a local commitment to improve measures in the short, medium and long terms implementing them gradual, steady, firmly, with the route adjustments necessary to ensure the success of these initiatives and programs between all involved around the world. It is also important, really very important, to begin to build a strong sensibilization on adolescents, teens and young generations turned to the sustainability; Audacity, courage to dare to new solutions and disseminated innovation in all fields of human being life’s are the great magic to be done to build the new world we want to build and live in togheter.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *