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what is the circular economy?

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Re: what is the circular economy?

Unread postby ralfy » Fri 26 Sep 2014, 22:09:03

Of course, it's more than just recycling, as there is a need for more profits and returns on investment. And that, in turn, eventually requires increasing resource consumption.
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Re: what is the circular economy?

Unread postby Graeme » Fri 26 Sep 2014, 22:14:33

I don't think so. The experiment of adopting a circular economy will require continuous adjustment as each business encounters challenges during implementation. There is always room for improvement.
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Re: what is the circular economy?

Unread postby Graeme » Mon 29 Sep 2014, 17:30:04

Sustainability and the Concept of a 'Circular Economy'

In an article for the World Economic Forum blog, Leo Schlesinger – CEO of MASISA México – makes the argument for the concept of a regenerative ‘circular economy’. This concept would basically embed sustainability firmly within society and effectively restore much of the life-supporting biosphere for our generation and future generations as well.

He advocates a shift from a linear – i.e. a so-called “take-make-dispose” view – to a regenerative ‘circular economy’ stating that the latter concept “aims to eradicate waste – not just from manufacturing processes, as lean management aspires to do, but systematically, throughout the life cycles and uses of products and their components.” ”In a circular economy,” Mr. Schlesinger elaborates, “the goal for durable components, such as metals and most plastics is to reuse or upgrade them for other productive applications through as many cycles as possible. (…) Ultimately, the circular economy could decouple economic growth from resource consumption.” Though his last ‘decoupling’ point seems a bit idealistic, he is right in pointing to the potential of maximizing the utilization of assets without – whenever possible and sensible – adding waste.

The concept of a ‘circular economy’ emanates from the simple understanding that projected future global demographics render current consumption patterns unsustainable in the long term. The World Economic Forum defines ‘circular economy’ in a report as follows:

“A circular economy is an industrial system that is restorative or regenerative by intention and design. It replaces the end-of-life concept with restoration, shifts towards the use of renewable energy, eliminates the use of toxic chemicals, which impair reuse and return to the biosphere, and aims for the elimination of waste through the superior design of materials, products, systems and business models.”

The following graphic shows such an economy based on those three core principles:

1. Waste does not exist: products are designed and optimized for a cycle of both disassembly and reuse thereby preserving large amounts of ‘already’ embedded energy and labor.

2. There is a strict differentiation between consumable and durable components of a product. Note, a decisive shift towards consumable products largely made of biological ingredients to ensure that they can safely be returned to the biosphere.

3. Reliance on renewable energy to power this cycle in order to decrease the dependency on natural resources while at the same time increasing the resilience of the entire system.


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Re: what is the circular economy?

Unread postby ralfy » Thu 02 Oct 2014, 21:32:59

Savings in terms of resources will be seen as opportunity costs, and thus will be used for further production and consumption. Profits and returns on investment will be re-invested in economies, and can only be paid for through increased production and consumption of goods and services.
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Re: what is the circular economy?

Unread postby Graeme » Mon 06 Oct 2014, 17:51:08

10 things we learned in recent circular economy live chat

1. The circular economy is about the four ‘R’s

Asked to describe a circular economy for someone who had never heard of it, Bart Goetzee, senior group sustainability at Philips explains that it’s “an industrial system that is restorative by design which means you can focus on economic growth without the increased use of natural resources.”

Essentially it’s about making more money while selling less stuff and it encompasses four different R’s, expands Mike Pitts, lead specialist in sustainability at Innovate UK, offering some practical examples. Remanufacturing (Caterpillar ReMan), repair (Unipart maintaining Sky digiboxes and Dr Marten boots for life), re-use (Rent the Runway), and recycle (M&S Shwopping).

2. Circularity can mean different things for products and countries


theguardian

RESOURCE ASSOCIATION AND SINVESTEC TO HELP DRIVE NEXT PHASE OF CIRCULAR ECONOMY TASK FORCE

The Circular Economy Task Force has launched the next phase of its work in which it will analyse the barriers presented by government machinery to a resource efficient circular economy in the UK.

Trade body the Resource Association and financial company Sinvestec have joined the group to help expand the expertise into the mechanics of resource recovery and the investment opportunities offered by a circular economy.


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Re: what is the circular economy?

Unread postby Graeme » Sat 01 Nov 2014, 16:28:47

The circular economy gets its own Academy Awards

Accenture and the World Economic Forum join to create an award program for leaders in sustainability.

This fall at a World Economic Forum meeting in Asia, Chinese premier Li Keqiang stressed China’s goal “to pursue green, circular and low-carbon development.” What premier Li was getting at is a notion that other government leaders around the globe and increasing numbers of CEOs are finally starting to embrace: the need to create a circular economy, one in which all the materials we use in our industrial stream must either be reused or returned safely to the earth. Why? As middle class consumption and urbanization continue to intensify in the developing world, business will struggle to meet this growing demand.


In a recent study conducted by Accenture for the United Nations, 36% of 1,000 CEOs across 25 industries, many of the world’s largest corporations, planned to use circular economy models such as shifting from products to services, substituting supplies from linear to circular, engaging in the sharing economy or recapturing and recycling valuable materials. Says Peter Lacy, the managing director of Accenture’s strategy and sustainability program who led the study: “We are seeing a ‘silent revolution’ in the way we think about global value chains and business models that is allowing us to grow companies and even whole economies, decoupled from natural resource use and environmental impact.”

But a movement really hasn’t arrived until it has its own awards event, and that’s what will happen in January at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The Circular Economy Awards, or “The Circulars,” will be an annual event recognizing individuals and organizations from commerce, civil society and academia that have made a notable contribution to driving circular economy principles.


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Re: what is the circular economy?

Unread postby careinke » Sun 02 Nov 2014, 13:15:10

My first impressions of the "circular economy" is that someone applied permaculture principles to manufacturing to come up with the concept. What a great way to sell sustainability. Permaculture can be applied to so many things in addition to growing food.

Care of the Earth
Care of People
return the surplus to the above

Follow those ethics in your life, and things get better. Pretty simple.
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Re: what is the circular economy?

Unread postby Graeme » Wed 26 Nov 2014, 16:53:52

For Entrepreneurs, The Circular Economy Presents a Massive Opportunity

Can we ensure our future prosperity given finite resources? Can we meet the needs of the 9 billion people -- and 5 billion middle-class consumers -- who will soon inhabit our planet, without destroying it? Can we restore our ecosystems while growing our businesses and economies? Could the answer to all of these questions possibly be yes?

Yes.

That's because a new kind of economy is taking root, called the circular economy, that's capturing the attention of change-makers around the world. It offers a way of growing our economies and businesses while facing up to the resource shortages and environmental degradation that threaten us. And it presents a generational opportunity for creative thinking and action by entrepreneurs and consumers everywhere.

How Does It Work?

An excellent report by the World Economic Forum defines a circular economy as "an industrial system that is restorative and regenerative by intention and design." In other terms, it is an economy that generates no or minimal waste; and whatever waste it does generate can be returned to the environment safely.

Crucially, it's a system in which taking less from our environment -- and using what we take more wisely -- actually generates economic and business growth.

The reports are full of examples of companies that are exploiting the principles of the circular economy to increase sustainability, add jobs, and improve their bottom lines. They also offer key principles and data for other entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs to begin innovating.


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Video: Why design is key to the circular economy
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Re: what is the circular economy?

Unread postby Graeme » Thu 04 Dec 2014, 17:56:47

Experts reflect on progress of circular economy in last year

It’s a little over a year since we launched the circular economy hub on Guardian Sustainable Business. Back then, it felt like a seedling of an idea that was yet to fully take root in business. We’ve asked a range of experts what progress has been made in the last 12 months.

Ron Gonen
Ron Gonen
Ron Gonen, co-founder and chief executive, Closed Loop Fund and former deputy commissioner for Sanitation, Recycling and Sustainability for NYC under former mayor Michael Bloomberg
The development of the circular economy will prove to be one of the most important economic opportunities of the first part of the 21st century. When we strip out the politics and social commentary about what it means to be an environmentalist, promoting a circular economy is simply the most efficient and optimal way to manage a business.

To date, the biggest obstacles have been scale and mature markets that can accept and trade in the full amount of different goods. There must be an efficient market mechanism and there must be givers and takers of the same approximate size. The internet has proven to be the market mechanism. People may now be speaking about the circular economy as a mainstream economic movement, but eBay was effectively a large circular economy that operated within national economies and the global economy when it launched in the 1990’s.

The internet enabled millions of individuals to participate in the circular economy, but in order for the circular economy to become a major economic movement, participation from major corporations with their massive consumption of goods and materials in the manufacturing process and eventually their products, must see value in participating. The last few years has seen some major corporations recognise the value of the circular economy - from optimising the materials used in the manufacturing process to ensuring that consumers recycle their products to bring valuable material back into the supply chain.

Dustin Benton
Dustin Benton
Dustin Benton, head of resource stewardship, Green Alliance
Creating a circular economy will take action in three areas: the economy, policy and politics, and innovation. Scaling quickly will only happen when all three push in the same direction. Over the past year, the signals have been mixed.

The economic story is straightforward: resource prices are flat, while economic growth is finally starting to push real wages up for the first time since the recession. This has dampened the economic urgency of the circular economy, but it still makes sense. Commodity prices between 2000 and 2013 rose nearly 2% for every 1% rise in GDP (pdf), and real wages wouldn’t have fallen at all if imported UK resource price shocks hadn’t been so sharp.

Politics has been more convoluted (as usual): the EU set out a strong but incremental policy proposal to promote the circular economy, which the UK government publicly supported while privately working to dilute it. The environmental audit committee’s Growing a circular economy report proposed a strong set of reforms, which government quietly rebuffed. Meanwhile, Scotland and Wales have continued to lead UK policymaking on the circular economy, while Conservative, Labour, and Lib Dem politicians have promised action in the next parliament.

The best progress has been on innovation. The House of Lords’ Waste Opportunities: stimulating a bioeconomy report has driven real interest in novel biomaterials and circular biotechnologies, with genuine support from BIS. Sustained support will be needed to ensure ideas that work in the lab make it to the market.


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Re: what is the circular economy?

Unread postby sjn » Fri 05 Dec 2014, 10:41:18

Graeme, I very much doubt anybody would be opposed to the basic ideas behind "the circular economy". What's unrealistic is to expect it to make any fundamental difference to the dilemmas it's presented to solve. If we'd set out on our Industrial Civilisation adventure with "Circular Economy" principles instead of financial hyper-capitalism, we may not be in the situation we are. But we are here. Right now we have overshot the bio-capacity of the planet to such an extent that that no amount of creative re-imagining of economics based on what we'd like to have is going to change that, and frankly, as others have alluded to, if we still focus on growth it will only increase the amount of resource consumption as efficiencies would be fed back into even greater conversion of natural capital.

Dismissing debt would also be a mistake, since it's how the system actually keeps an approximate tally of how overshot we are, and it's why as we have poured ever more resources into growing in order to "pay back" that debt, it only ever grows. We can't grow to pay back debt. Growth takes further away from balance, and takes ever more resources as diminishing returns increasingly kick in.

The ideas behind the "circular economy" (and Ecological Economics) are hardly new, and I'm sure many of us here have expressed our wish for quality of quantity and the desire of a more ecologically balanced alternative to economic reality. Wishful thinking though doesn't address where we are, and what awaits us, it only gives us a nice fuzzy feeling that maybe we'll all be okay.
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Re: what is the circular economy?

Unread postby Graeme » Fri 05 Dec 2014, 16:21:38

sjn, Sorry, I don't agree. Well I agree with your first sentence but not the second. Did you actually read the commentary from experts in my previous post?

The development of the circular economy will prove to be one of the most important economic opportunities of the first part of the 21st century.


If you've read my posts in the RE and economic growth thread, you would have seen that recycling has been used by our human ancestors for 400,000 years. That's right, it's not new. What is new is the methodology being adopted by modern society; these are still being worked out by individual businesses. When I see them, I will post here.

Five key ideas on scaling up emerging circular economy principles

How can manufacturers build resource resilience into their supply chains in a way that not only reduces raw material input costs, but delivers added value to the customer? One smart solution is to sell the performance of a product whilst retaining ownership of the component parts within it. Earlier this month, to coincide with the official opening of its refurbished systems factory for healthcare imaging equipment in Best, the Netherlands, Philips hosted a panel discussion to examine how emerging product-service models built around circular economy principles of ‘pay per use’, renting/sharing and lease ownership could be scaled up.

The discussion involved the following panelists: Frans van Houten, CEO of Royal Philips; Dame Ellen MacArthur, founder of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation; Jens Teichelmann, managing director of IBM Global Asset Recovery Services Europe and Mark Boelhouwer, CEO of RICOH Netherlands.

Five key leading thoughts came out of the discussion:

1. Cracking the mindset conundrum
2. Designing for longevity
3. Servicing the economics
4. Technology as an enabler
5. The value proposition


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Re: what is the circular economy?

Unread postby Graeme » Sun 07 Dec 2014, 15:43:53

Circular Economy can add $1 Trillion a Year and 100,000 Jobs: Report

At a time when human beings have far exceeded the Earth’s capacity to sustain the current consumption levels for long, a new paradigm called the Circular Economy is showing great promise. As the name suggests, a Circular Economy goes beyond recycling and focuses on eliminating material loss and waste through careful design. It supports systems that help eradicate waste not just from manufacturing processes, but throughout the life cycle of products and their components.

“Towards the Circular Economy,” a 2014 report from the World Economic Forum, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and McKinsey & Company estimates that shifting to this model could add more than $1 trillion every year to the global economy by 2025 and create 100,000 new jobs within the next five years. This is possible if businesses start focusing on building circular supply chains and increase the rate of recycling, reuse and remanufacture.

Tetra Pak, the global food packaging and processing company is an example of how businesses can deploy the Circular Economy model today. Tetra Pak uses fewer raw materials in its carton packages, sources them from renewable, sustainable and certified resources as far as possible, and acts as a catalyst to promote recycling of used beverage cartons.

Unilever, the global consumer goods giant, has developed a Sustainable Living Plan that is designed to help ensure long-term stability of its supply chain as well as protection of the planet’s natural resources. According to the company, it sustainably sourced 48 percent of its agricultural raw materials last year, and plans to source 100 percent of its raw material sustainably by 2020.

Ricoh, the Japanese electronics and imaging multinational, has put in place a program called the Comet Circle to reduce its environmental impact. The primary directive of the program is to design and manufacture all product parts in such a way that they could be recycled or reused. The company’s GreenLine label is one of its key success stories today.

Mud Jeans, a Dutch company, has developed an innovative leasing scheme for jeans. The company promotes the concept of “using” rather than “owning” jeans. Consumers pay €5.95 a month to lease a pair of jeans, which they can return after a year, trade them for a new pair, and begin another yearlong lease.


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Re: what is the circular economy?

Unread postby Graeme » Tue 09 Dec 2014, 18:35:28

Europe can learn from Germany's circular economy, experts say

While Germany boasts the highest EU-wide recycling rate, 85% of waste in certain regions within the bloc ends up in landfills. Analysts are worried about the European Commission’s current reevaluation of waste targets. EurActiv Germany reports.

130 planned EU laws initiated under the second Barroso Commission are currently under examination by the new team under Jean-Claude Juncker. The Commission plans on presenting the initiatives, which are planned for 2015, next Wednesday (17 December).

Until then, the Brussels institution must decide which legislative proposals will make the cut and which will be thrown out.

Last week, eleven national environment ministers – including Germany’s Barbara Hendricks and France’s Ségolène Royal – wrote a letter to the Commission, calling on the institution to uphold planned EU legislation for higher air quality and better recycling.

Environment ministers were particularly concerned about the package of measures on the circular economy. The European Commission should “very closely examine” the possible benefits of the planned trash legislation, the ministers wrote.

In 2010, the EU generated 2.5 billion tonnes of waste. Only 36% of this amount was recycled.


One of the most ambitious and likely most well-known proposals from the Commission Package says that Europe should recycle 70% of its municipal waste and 80% of packaging waste by 2030.


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Re: what is the circular economy?

Unread postby pstarr » Tue 09 Dec 2014, 19:53:52

ralfy wrote:Savings in terms of resources will be seen as opportunity costs, and thus will be used for further production and consumption. Profits and returns on investment will be re-invested in economies, and can only be paid for through increased production and consumption of goods and services.
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Re: what is the circular economy?

Unread postby Graeme » Tue 23 Dec 2014, 16:51:58

Circular economy: the top 5 stories of 2014

This year’s most-read circular economy stories featured edible water bottles, groceries without the packaging and Scotland’s solution for recycling nappies
What a circular economy looks like inside a Christmas stocking

In a recent Guardian Sustainable Business survey, readers identified the circular economy as one of the hottest sustainability topics for 2015. From Scotland to Japan, coffee to shallots, here’s what was most read in 2014. Take this quiz to put your circular economy knowledge to the test and find out what you’ve learned over the last 12 months.

1. Berlin duo launch a supermarket with no packaging

Shrink-wrapped shallots and polystyrene-packed peppers are a thing of the past at Original Unverpackt, a German concept store selling groceries without the packaging.

2. Ex-Starbucks entrepreneur wants you to eat your coffee

By making it possible to eat coffee cherries, startup Coffee Flour aims to reduce waste and create a new food source.

3. Waste-free, Willy Wonka packaging is coming but are consumers ready for it?

From edible water bottles to yoghurt encased in fruit-flavoured skins, the packaging industry is getting creative, but psychological barriers persist.

4. Scotland’s sustainable solution for recycling disposable nappies

After the success of a kerbside pick-up scheme, two recycling firms aim to deal with the mountain of used nappies.


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Re: what is the circular economy?

Unread postby Graeme » Mon 05 Jan 2015, 17:35:28

Here are some key extracts from the wiki article on recycling:

Cost–benefit analysis

There is some debate over whether recycling is economically efficient. It is said[by whom?] that dumping 10,000 tons of waste in a landfill creates six jobs, while recycling 10,000 tons of waste can create over 36 jobs. However, the cost effectiveness of creating the additional jobs remains unproven. According to the U.S. Recycling Economic Informational Study, there are over 50,000 recycling establishments that have created over a million jobs in the US.[43] Two years after New York City declared that implementing recycling programs would be "a drain on the city," New York City leaders realized that an efficient recycling system could save the city over $20 million.[44] Municipalities often see fiscal benefits from implementing recycling programs, largely due to the reduced landfill costs.[45] A study conducted by the Technical University of Denmark according to the Economist found that in 83 percent of cases, recycling is the most efficient method to dispose of household waste.[5][10] However, a 2004 assessment by the Danish Environmental Assessment Institute concluded that incineration was the most effective method for disposing of drink containers, even aluminium ones.[46]

Fiscal efficiency is separate from economic efficiency. Economic analysis of recycling does not include what economists call externalities, which are unpriced costs and benefits that accrue to individuals outside of private transactions. Examples include: decreased air pollution and greenhouse gases from incineration, reduced hazardous waste leaching from landfills, reduced energy consumption, and reduced waste and resource consumption, which leads to a reduction in environmentally damaging mining and timber activity. About 4,000 minerals are known, of these only a few hundred minerals in the world are relatively common.[47] Known reserves of phosphorus will be exhausted within the next 100 years at current rates of usage.[48][49] Without mechanisms such as taxes or subsidies to internalize externalities, businesses will ignore them despite the costs imposed on society.[opinion] To make such nonfiscal benefits economically relevant, advocates have pushed for legislative action to increase the demand for recycled materials.[2] The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has concluded in favor of recycling, saying that recycling efforts reduced the country's carbon emissions by a net 49 million metric tonnes in 2005.[5] In the United Kingdom, the Waste and Resources Action Programme stated that Great Britain's recycling efforts reduce CO2 emissions by 10–15 million tonnes a year.[5] Recycling is more efficient in densely populated areas, as there are economies of scale involved.[2]


Energy and material flows

The amount of energy saved through recycling depends upon the material being recycled and the type of energy accounting that is used. Correct accounting for this saved energy can be accomplished with life cycle analysis using real energy values. In addition, exergy, which is a measure of useful energy can be used. In general, it takes far less energy to produce a unit mass of recycled materials than it does to make the same mass of virgin materials.[58][59][60]

Some scholars use emergy (spelled with an m) analysis, for example, budgets for the amount of energy of one kind (exergy) that is required to make or transform things into another kind of product or service. Emergy calculations take into account economics which can alter pure physics based results. Using emergy life-cycle analysis researchers have concluded that materials with large refining costs have the greatest potential for high recycle benefits. Moreover, the highest emergy efficiency accrues from systems geared toward material recycling, where materials are engineered to recycle back into their original form and purpose, followed by adaptive reuse systems where the materials are recycled into a different kind of product, and then by-product reuse systems where parts of the products are used to make an entirely different product.[61]

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) states on its website that "a paper mill uses 40 percent less energy to make paper from recycled paper than it does to make paper from fresh lumber."[62] Some critics argue that it takes more energy to produce recycled products than it does to dispose of them in traditional landfill methods, since the curbside collection of recyclables often requires a second waste truck. However, recycling proponents point out that a second timber or logging truck is eliminated when paper is collected for recycling, so the net energy consumption is the same. An Emergy life-cycle analysis on recycling revealed that fly ash, aluminum, recycled concrete aggregate, recycled plastic, and steel yield higher efficiency ratios, whereas the recycling of lumber generates the lowest recycle benefit ratio. Hence, the specific nature of the recycling process, the methods used to analyse the process, and the products involved affect the energy savings budgets.[61]


As global consumption of a natural resources grows, its depletion is inevitable. The best recycling can do is to delay, complete closure of material loops to achieve 100 percent recycling of nonrenewables is impossible as micro-trace materials dissipate into the environment causing severe damage to the planet's ecosystems.[72][73][74]


However, comparing the market cost of recyclable material with the cost of new raw materials ignores economic externalities—the costs that are currently not counted by the market. Creating a new piece of plastic, for instance, may cause more pollution and be less sustainable than recycling a similar piece of plastic, but these factors will not be counted in market cost. A life cycle assessment can be used to determine the levels of externalities and decide whether the recycling may be worthwhile despite unfavorable market costs. Alternatively, legal means (such as a carbon tax) can be used to bring externalities into the market, so that the market cost of the material becomes close to the true cost.


This abstract caught my attention:

Moving from recycling to waste prevention: A review of barriers and enables

Current European waste policy does not mainly aim to treat waste streams but rather place in the foreground of interest the complete supply chain of a product. Waste prevention and re-use do have the highest priority and they take effect before the end-of-life phase of a product or a material is reached. Recycling only takes the third place whereas recovery and disposal represent the least favourable options. Recycling can help to decrease the consumption of primary resources but it does not tackle the causes but only the symptoms. In principle, recycling processes require energy and will generate side streams (i.e. waste). Furthermore, there are insuperable barriers and the practice is far from 100% recycling. The philosophy of waste prevention and re-use is completely different since they really tackle the causes. It is self-evident that a decrease of waste will also decrease the consumption of resources, energy and money to process the waste. However, even if European legislation is proceeding in the right direction, a clear decrease in waste generation did not occur up to now. Unfortunately, waste generation represents a positive factor of economic growth. Basically, waste generation is a huge business and numerous stakeholders are not interested to reduce waste. More sophisticated incentives are required to decouple economic growth from waste generation.
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Re: what is the circular economy?

Unread postby Graeme » Tue 06 Jan 2015, 17:47:59

How Much Can Human Behavior Affect Supply Chain Sustainability?

My past articles have included discussions of the Ricoh Comet Circle and the circular economy as reasonable representations of several (perhaps oddly) connected elements in a more holistic view of sustainable systems as they influence green manufacturing. Connections in the context of those discussions have been about “material” interactions and movement … what comes from where, what goes where, where is “away” when something is thrown away at its end of life?

Over the New Year break, a number of discussions came to light about the other side of the “circular economy” coin … influence and effects beyond processes, materials, transportation, energy, water and so on. This needs some explanation. What is referred to here is the influence decisions have on other decisions, people, experiences, quality of life, etc. Behind the smooth interconnectedness of our global economy sits a complex infrastructure of people, places, things. Sometimes these are simply referred to as “the supply chain.” But it’s not that simple. More importantly, if it was that simple we’d not be addressing core values of the many actors in the supply chain.

Data, especially that collected at different speeds and representing different “views” of the enterprise from top to bottom as discussed in my last article, is currently focused on these material interactions and movements. As referred to in my previous article on the digital revolution, communication speeds, computational capability and speed and the hardware spitting out the data from machines and systems are more common, less expensive and more reliable. But, do they tell us the whole story? Or, more significantly, what would be needed (or how would we analyze this data and use it) to tell the rest of the story?

This definitely needs some elaboration! Let’s rely on an old analogy … the “butterfly effect.” One can find lots about this on the web but, basically, according to WiseGEEK “the butterfly effect is a term used in chaos theory to describe how small changes to a seemingly unrelated thing or condition (also known as an initial condition) can affect large, complex systems.


It could happen!

Here is one butterfly example – focusing on conflict minerals in the Congo – called “Raise Hope for Congo.” Among other helpful information it has a simple description of how the 3Ts—tin, tantalum, tungsten—and gold move from the mines of eastern Congo all the way to your cell phone. These minerals form the basis of some of our most popular technological advances in devices that most people use every day - game consoles, laptop computers, and mobile phones. Further, besides going into tin cans, tin is an essential ingredient of solder for electronic circuit boards. Tungsten has many uses in traditional manufacturing including drill bits and gold is commonly used in electronic components because of its conductivity and lack of corrosion.

And, just as evidence that this is a real butterfly … even McKinsey has an essay on the birth of a consumer movement in their “Socially Conscious Consumer” posting! That means this is real!


environmentalleader

Europe's circular economy looks to secure the future for eco-innovation

Boosting the circular economy in Europe will improve business competitiveness and build on creating millions of green jobs, an eco-innovation summit has been told.

The conference in Lyon, where green business case studies across a wide range of sectors were presented, explored and discussed, heard that over the last decade between 3 and 4.2 million jobs have been created in European eco-industries.

However, delegates were warned that there is a labour market shortage of employees with green skills, such as skilled engineers to optimise the environmental performance of buildings or the environmental impact of mining.

Specialisations in electronic equipment management processes, eco-design for energy and resource savings in the construction sector, substitutions of hazardous chemicals, and innovative recycling concepts, among others, were also mentioned in Lyon as providing employment opportunities.

The European fora on eco-innovation aim at developing recommendations for policy makers. In Lyon, four key messages emerged. Education was highlighted as crucial. Learning from successful examples and better connection of vocational and educational training providers with businesses shall improve the match between offer and demand of skills.

The second key message experts highlighted is the urgency in developing communication strategies with clear win-win messaging; not only to motivate consumers to demand eco-products but especially to accompany businesses to exploit the added value of resource-efficient models in the long term and subsequently generate employment.

A shift towards zero-waste product design needs to become mainstream. The circular economy model will generate jobs only if we redefine the way we think, produce and consume to create a positive environmental footprint with our activities.

Last but certainly not least, experts highlighted the need for policy action and appropriate legislation and reform to drive change. Results-oriented policy making that transforms product manufacturing through binding legislation accompanied by tax reform was widely perceived by participants as conducive to circular economy-based models that will create employment.


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Re: what is the circular economy?

Unread postby Graeme » Mon 15 Jun 2015, 18:11:39

I haven't posted in this thread for a while. Here's an update on current thinking on this subject. The article also provides links back to earlier posts in this series.

Circular Economy (and Global Material and Waste Flows), Part III

The objective in this posting is to explore what our current state of circularity is with respect to materials.

First, it is beneficial to dig a bit deeper into what circularity is in terms of the circular economy. Perhaps the best information on what is, and is not, included in the circular economy, is from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. They have a number of reports with some based on McKinsey and Company analysis done of the foundation — check their website for info. In one recent publication, A New Dynamic: Effective Business in a Circular Economy (Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 2013) they outline some 15 characteristics differentiating a linear from a circular economy. Some examples from this publication include:

The linear economy externalizes costs in search of production cost reduction whereas the circular economy internalizes costs in search for quality service/performance and low risks.

Linear point of sale ends responsibility while circular considers business responsibility extends beyond point of sale and includes rent/lease/recovery.

Linear creates waste streams for municipalities and individuals/society to deal with and circular reduces waste streams and creates value streams instead.

Linear encourages standardization to add to efficiency and ease of consumption while circular encourages standardization of components and protocols to encourage repair, recovery and reuse.

In linear economy prices reflect only the private costs of production, distribution, sales, etc. while in circular prices reflect the full costs aided by reduction of externalized costs.

Linear taxes labor which encourages labor productivity by substituting capital or energy while circular taxes waste, non-renewables, and unearned income.

The linear economy views recycling as another flow of raw material and overlooks the lost embedded energy and quality.

Linear economy transforms natural and social capital into financial capital using short term preferences with a preference to rapid, large flows while circular (re)builds capital (stocks) from which to derive more and better flows over the long term.


environmentalleader
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Re: what is the circular economy?

Unread postby Graeme » Thu 18 Jun 2015, 19:58:01

European Commission urged to adopt circular economy measures

MEPs have urged the European Commission to approve a strong and effective package of measures on circular economy by the end of the year, to cut waste and encourage manufacturers to make products more durable.

The European Parliament’s Environment Committee has voted in favour of a proposal to cut waste by 2025, phase out toxic chemicals from manufacturing and make products that last longer.

The resolution aims at pushing the European Commission to approve a solid legislation on the circular economy by the end of the year, following the controversial withdrawal in 2014 of a proposal to tackle resource use and waste.

Sirpa Pietikäinen MEP, who proposed the resolution, said, “It is a vital step for the EU to use resources more efficiently and to reduce our resource dependency and also to bring savings in material costs. Smart ecodesign of products also bears in mind repairing, reusing and recycling products.”

The report suggests binding waste-reduction targets to be achieved by 2025, increased recycling and reusing targets, limitation of incinerators by 2020 and gradual reduction of all landfill waste. The resolution was approved by 56 votes to 5 and will now be presented to the EU Commission.


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Re: what is the circular economy?

Unread postby Graeme » Wed 24 Jun 2015, 19:47:57

CIRCULAR ECONOMY COULD ADD £29 BILLION TO UK GDP

The circular economy is ‘the industrial revolution for a new generation’ with the potential to generate 175,000 new jobs and add £29 billion (1.8 per cent) to UK Gross Domestic Product (GDP), according to waste management firm Veolia.

The claims come from the ‘The Circular Revolution’ - a new report commissioned by Veolia and undertaken by Imperial College London university, to assess the potential economic benefits of the circular economy from a UK perspective.

According to the report, circular business models offer an opportunity for the economy to grow while ‘minimising the amount of virgin resources that are extracted’.

The report analyses the value generated from ‘commodities from households and commercial and industrial sources’, representing 30 per cent of resource flows in the UK, and explores six ways that the circular economy contributes to UK GDP.


[url=http://resource.co/article/circular-economy-could-add-£29-billion-uk-gdp-10236]resource[/url]
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