More and more people are realising the phenomenal potential of the circular economy model. More than being essential to securing materials for future generations, it’s also a serious business opportunity. Being a first mover in this process will certainly bring added benefits. But how to get started in order to make it a successful transition?
Phase 1. Set goals and create an action plan
Shifting towards a circular economy requires planning. See it as a journey. Together with your key team members, decide what you want to achieve and draft a roadmap of how you’re going to get there.
Ask questions, such as: « What does our company stand for and how do we as a company live it? » Then develop a working definition of a circular economy that is aligned with your company’s values and ethics.
Focus on how the company can do more good rather than just less bad. Consider renewable energy, cleaning the air, water and soil, protecting the world’s species, increasing biodiversity, enabling people to lead better lives. Determine the internal and external drivers motivating your company to undertake a more systematic approach to circular economy models and principles. Be realistic, but be bold.
Phase 2. Educate and activate your organisation
Ensure that everyone in the company understands its new goals and ambitions. Depending on the size and structure of the organisation, arrange training sessions to ensure everyone knows what it means and how they can participate. When employees are inspired, they will be able to contribute better. When everyone in the organisation understands the principles of the circular economy and is aware of how these need to be integral to your core activities and operations they will be able to contribute multi-fold, not just from a technical point of view. At first, focus on the big picture, to ensure everyone is looking at the same picture.
Phase 3. Innovate and optimise
Design creates the first stirrings of desire. Core to the circular economy model is the power of biological and technical cycles. Evaluate processes for initial improvement. Assess which materials can be recycled, which materials can be taken back as nutrients and which materials should be phased out. Look at ways in which products could be designed so that they can be easily disassembled, taken back and reused, either by your own factory to serve as raw materials or by other business partners.
Keep in mind it’s not just about recycling, but about upcycling, where materials can be used for a higher quality product over and over again. Explore with your R&D and other constituencies how (up)cycling can become integral to your own activities and how this will later benefit your clients.
Phase 4. Engage
Start engaging your business partners, suppliers and clients with regard to your new ambitions and actions. Have an honest but positive approach which celebrates possibilities rather than obstacles. Also, see what your company can do to help them deliver on their own sustainability promise.
Be transparent about your knowledge and ambition. Quality is central to a circular economy.
When people truly understand this, the price will become secondary. If you co-operate with your clients and suppliers in an open manner, they will understand that you will only move ahead when you have sufficient funds to invest in R&D and that this depends on current income.
Set up processes that enable you to continuously collect data, listen to users, and evaluate variations in performance. Then make plans about how you can make the necessary improvements to your strategy and your products as you progress.
The community is also a vital part of circular economy success. Many companies already working with circular economy-inspired philosophies are using each other’s products, sharing their experiences and developing partnerships. Recognise the levers available to you and how your company will give back.
Implementing the circular economy framework and philosophy into your organisation can take time. However the result will be a future of security and opportunity that you can use to position yourself as a leader in your field. It’s a new world of possibilities, fresh discoveries and the pushing away of previously accepted boundaries. This will bring significant benefits to all. So let people know when you take these important steps along your journey towards abundance and they will be happy to travel with you.Dr Daan Elffers is the CEO of Dutch sustainability consultancy EMG. The Netherlands was among the first countries in the world to implement Cradle to Cradle and the circular economy on a significant scale.
Reblogged from theguardian.com
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