The sun shone at the start of WRc’s Innovation Day, and even though it snowed later, over 350 people turned out for the annual day of thought-provacation and networking. I was lucky enough to be running the second WRc Circular Economy workshop. This time we focused on building a place; an urban centre, a seaside town, or a town with a rural hinterland. These towns were built from dry recyclate (obviously) and children’s toys to make the workshop a bit more hands on and interesting.
We used the experience of building the place to then explore a number of questions about the circular economy when it comes to utilities and infrastructure, such as: when does extending asset life start to block innovation? Who needs to collaborate to make the necessary changes happen? Who owns the assets that we use to deliver critical services such as energy, water and waste collection?
I learnt something new from the event, which was that one of the major impacts of a planned circular economy place was an improvement in the quality of life. Better planning seems to lead to more green space, less polluting forms of transport, better-thought out communities. This doesn’t mean a call for central planning necessarily, but it is the realisation that there are greater benefits to the circular economy than just reducing costs and increasing value: there are social benefits as well.