I’ve been working on, and thinking about, the circular economy for the last 2 years. Working with
WRc in 2016 and early 2017 gave me insights about how the water and energy sectors work and how they have the potential to move to more circular models. Since then, we’ve been working at Low and Behold on circular economy strategies, but also, and possibly more importantly, on staff engagement.
The circular economy is an exciting concept for me because, after 20-odd years of working in the environmental sector, I finally see a theory that shows how we can be more sustainable without being reductive. Environmental messages in the past have always been about doing less, using less and have mainly resonated with those that can afford to make sustainability part of their decision-making. Environmentalism has not resonated with the majority, because it hasn’t been a viable option for the majority.
The circular economy describes a new way of doing business that is routed in effectiveness as well as efficiency. It imagines a new way of doing business, where resources are circulated at their highest value for as long as possible. That could be stuff; materials and products. It could also be people, or knowledge or money. A circular economy is one that understands, or tries to understand, the value in everything. A circular economy is one that investigates the system as a whole.
None of this is simple, which is why we are just at the start of a journey. Making an economy regenerative by design is one of the harder concepts to grasp as it is so far removed from our current linear model. But that doesn’t mean it is not achievable. The potential for change is huge, but it will only come by radically disrupting many of the current practices and norms. This is why I am excited by the transition to a circular economy.