By Alex Marchyshyn and Aman Singh
These might not yet make for pretty Google search terms, but as social, economic and environmental drivers – migration, poverty, health epidemics, pollution levels, water scarcity, etc. – push organizations to rethink their business models and strategies, these alternatives are starting to gain attention across corporations.
So much so that entire conferences have been devoted to unpack these concepts and their applications. One such concept is a circular economy, the idea of a restorative industrial economy in which all products and services can be disassembled, reinvented and put back into the system – a circular loop that benefits both consumers and businesses. By contrast, our current economic model is linear and relies on a steady stream of new resources to feed production and consumption.
Last month, we attended a forum hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation in Washington, D.C. featuring representatives from both the public and private sectors. The event focused on how organizations are starting to bring the concept of a circular economy to life through product design, R&D and partnerships. Hosted in collaboration with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the event featured inspiring keynotes from Dame Ellen as well as William McDonough, who sparked the movement to bring cradle-to-cradle innovation to life with his seminal book "Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things."
So, how can an organization bring this to life?
Having attended two days of stimulating panel discussions and rigorous workshops, here are three ways to help get you started on retrofitting the elements of a circular economy:
By reframing the move to a circular economy as a business imperative, companies can build a clearer picture of costs, opportunities and scale. This then helps secure buy-in from senior executives and helps companies better manage supply chain and procurement gaps. As DSM* North America President Hugh Welsh succinctly put it, “The case for the circular economy is not just a case for corporate social responsibility or saving the environment; it’s really about … surviving as a company … It’s a case of competitive advantage.”
While we’ve certainly written these as recommendations, numerous companies are already making considerable headway in embedding circular design models – and thinking – into their organizations. You don’t need to spin the wheel – start here: Guardian Sustainable Business’ Circular Economy hub or TriplePundit's series on the circular economy and green electronics, and stay in touch @EdelmanPurpose.
Image credit: Flickr/Scottish Government
Aman Singh is Vice President of Business + Social Purpose at Edelman.
Alex Marchyshyn is an account executive in the Business + Social Purpose Practice at Edelman.