Articles, posts and podcasts about sustainable supply chains, mostly

Circular Economy

The dangers of circular economy thinking

In this short five minute video, Dr. Karl-Henrik Robèrt, founder of The Natural Step, talks about circular economy as a means and not as a goal in itself.

The circular economy is only a small part of being sustainable, and there’s a risk it may get sidelined along with so many other paradigms, suggests Robèrt.

There’s a huge amount to be done that doesn’t fit into circular thinking, he says, so the risk is that we forget the big task ahead of us.

This strategic task we have in front of us, is to work out what sustainability means. Then design the systems to get us there. We often forget this, he suggests.

The circular economy is part of how we get there, but not the end goal, he reckons. Some things must simply be excluded (CFCs, plutonium) and circular thinking risks ignoring planetary boundaries.

His summary is very much the traditional European perspective. The economy serves us, not the other way around. The US perspective evolved to be, “look after the economy, and the economy will look after us”.

Of course that approach has made some folks billions, but has ignored externalities as we all know. This attitude is slowly changing, at least in some businesses and parts of society.

This is a useful video to remind us not to get caught up in obsession with the circular economy.

But I’m not entirely sure most people are. Most of us realise there’s a lot outside it to be done too.

The circular economy is part of our tool kit, as Robèrt suggests, and this is a helpful reminder of the bigger picture.

We’ll be debating all this, and really practical strategies to make circular thinking truly embedded in strategy at the below conference in June. Come join us.

Circular Advantage Business Forum

Discover and implement circular business models that generate new revenue streams, reduce costs and create sustainable growth

8th-9th June 2015, London, UK

With Accenture Strategy, Tarkett, Balfour Beatty, Akzo Nobel, Product Life Institute, BT, HP, Carlsberg, Novelis, Interface, Desso, Marks & Spencer, Coca-Cola Company, Kingfisher, Jaguar Land Rover, Dell and many more.

Check out the agenda here: