Fact: the global population grows. Fact: the global mountain of waste grows. Fact: resources are becoming increasingly scarce. It is high time to critically review the way we produce and consume. It 's time to take into account our most important stakeholder: Planet Earth. It's time for the circular economy.
The circular economy is an economic system in which maximum reuse of products and materials are key. This means that waste is either organic in nature and can have a natural end, or that products (parts) are technically recyclable. This way the economic value is retained. The circular economy is at odds with the current linear system, in which raw materials are converted into products, which are eventually destroyed.
Of course also good examples of reuse in our linear economy can be found, such as the University of California shows us. They have put a target to produce ‘zero waste’ by 2020. Using 13 recycling bins all waste is collected and processed separately. The ultimate goal is that everything either becomes compost or is recycled.
'Reuse' is often synonymous with 'recycling', but that is too short sighted: it is also about the repair and reuse of existing products. That sometimes takes some creative thinking, but the possibilities are endless. Take for example upcyclethat.com, where endless ideas are reviewed. Like a broken light bulb: after a lick of paint 'suddenly' becomes very suitable as Christmas decoration. Indeed, thinking outside the box is the motto here.
How do you make the transition? How do you change your thinking and doing from a linear model to thinking and doing in a circular model? The Natural Step has designed the Framework for Strategic Sustainable Development for this purpose. This framework is based on 'systems thinking' and any organisation, large or small, is able to define a circular strategy with it. Use the EFQM Excellence Model to implement and review your strategy and you create a reflective and learning organisation that is continuously taking small sustainable steps towards a circular economy.
An inspiring example is Interface, a manufacturer of carpet tiles. Already back in 1994 CEO Ray Anderson decided to do things TO-TA-LY different: a 100% sustainable company by 2020. ‘Mission Zero’ is anything but a modest objective, but a successful one: anno 2014 already 70% is sustainable, at the same time the company has become the market leader with a turnover of more than $ 1 billion annually. Interesting detail: their sustainability strategy is based on the Framework for Strategic Sustainable Development of The Natural Step.
For those who do not only want to do on their own, joining forces can make a difference. A good example is C2C Bizz, a consortium of 10 partners from the Northwest of Europe with the aim to integrate 'Cradle to Cradle' in business parks. Next to the circular economy renewables and innovative solutions play an important role here. C2C Bizz does not lose sight of business interests: ‘Cradle to Cradle helps you to rethink, turn things around and create new opportunities leading to more profits for your business.’ A sustainable starting point.
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