As Liz Goodwin, chief executive at WRAP said at the Resource event in London recently, there is still too much talk and not enough action to bring about the circular economy. Despite it being dubbed the business model best suited to equip future generations to deal with the planet’s resources, we need to be delivering circular methods on the ground.
It’s not good enough to simply pledge support and take a box ticking approach, it must be reflected in the way an organisation works, especially when their activity is highly dependent on limited earth’s resources. By continuously re-using waste, a better use of resources will come to light, which takes the pressure off what are becoming increasingly scarce materials. To put it simply, we can’t continue to just recycle, we must be reusing products, mining them for their raw matierials and pioneering innovative methods and processes to remanufacture them back into the system.
The problem we’re now facing is that it’s still the minority leading the majority. The London Waste and Recycling Board (LWARB), for instance, is taking big strides towards a restorative future with the introduction of a new initiative within the cities of Amsterdam, Copenhagen and London. The project will see the organisation work with city leaders to pioneer processes, designed to curb waste levels and enhance resource security which could ultimately lead to more efficient working practices in three leading European cities.
Another example of those doing it right is Argos’ with its gadget trade-in scheme. Launched last year, the initiative was rolled out across the UK, enabling customers to conveniently recycle their old devices. Equally, Bandvulc, which provides support tyre management and support services to a fleet of vans using its own retreaded tyres, is an example of a small enterprise thinking on a circular level. In the first three years alone, the restorative business model generated new revenue in excess of £4 million, while providing significant environmental savings, conserving finite raw materials and reducing carbon emissions.
All examples of solid thinking across varying sizes of business, but no seismic shift in directive or approach. So, whilst raising awareness across the entire supply chain is imperative, what exactly should organisations do to ensure they play their part to achieve the global goal of becoming completely restorative?
Simply put, ‘waste’ should not exist. Working with this mentality means that when a product reaches the end of what’s considered it’s ‘useful’ lifecycle, it goes on to create something new and therefore becomes a raw material re-entering the supply chain. While this has obvious environmental benefits, it also has significant cost savings for organisations, not to mention adding to business continuity by decoupling growth from the reliance on limited resources.
Taking a step back
Before considering circular methods, organisations must first take a step back and ensure all the necessary measures are taken to eliminate waste at all stages of a product’s lifecycle.
From how materials are sourced and extracted, to the method of manufacture, performance in use and what happens to it at the end, are all stages that should be considered and evaluated.
Establishing a circular model
Instead of simply discarding it as waste, we must mine a product for its raw material and remanufacture it back into the supply chain. By making the most of surplus material, businesses leaders can not only reduce their own waste to landfill, but also achieve long-term sustainability.
Dutch company Rotterzwam has an interesting take on waste, using coffee bean surpluses reusing it as fertiliser to grow mushrooms.
Supply chain consideration
Waste is all around us, across all sectors and supply chains. An over-engineered product, for instance, is more likely to produce a higher amount of waste during production, not just after it’s served its purpose, which is something that needs to be addressed.
By thinking beyond individual business models and considering how the entire supply chain is functioning, businesses can work together to establish an entirely circular economy. After all, the real shift will only come when all partners, suppliers, stakeholders and customers all make the necessary changes together.
What’s clear is that there is increasing pressure on businesses to ensure they are sourcing like-minded partners that not only help to achieve circular goals, but also work towards establishing manufacturing methods that transform waste into a viable raw material for future products.
But it’s not simply about the environmental benefits, pioneering a circular model has a list of socio-economic benefits, such as job and income generation for poor communities.
The Net-Works initiative for example, saw Interface team up with the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) to tackle the growing problem of discarded fishing nets in some of the world’s poorest coastal communities, while also providing local villagers and fishermen with supplemental income.
The two organisations co-collaborated to pioneer their own supply chain, together with local residents to source new raw materials from the waste that was polluting their oceans. After establishing a successful community-based supply chain, Interface and ZSL remanufacture the discarded nets into carpet tiles, cleaning up the area’s oceans in the process.
While Net-Works™ demonstrates an innovative model for closing the manufacturing loop; it also provides a template for the future of sustainable manufacturing in the carpet tile industry and beyond.
A future focused lens
Business leaders must think laterally by assessing the applications for ‘waste’ materials, which can be transformed and open the door to unlimited revenue stream and innovation opportunities.
By focusing on improving the way products are sourced, manufactured, consumed and disposed, change will happen. Organisations must work together to strive for a common goal. After all, the future should not only be sustainable, but also as restorative and economically viable.
This article is attributed to Ramon Arratia, Sustainability Director at Interface
A Good Look At How Homes Will Become More Energy Efficient Soon
Everyone always talks about ways they can save energy at home, but the tactics are old school. They’re only tweaking the way they do things at the moment. Sealing holes in your home isn’t exactly the next scientific breakthrough we’ve been waiting for.
There is some good news because technology is progressing quickly. Some tactics might not be brand new, but they’re becoming more popular. Here are a few things you should expect to see in homes all around the country within a few years.
1. The Rise Of Smart Windows
When you look at a window right now it’s just a pane of glass. In the future they’ll be controlled by microprocessors and sensors. They’ll change depending on the specific weather conditions directly outside.
If the sun disappears the shade will automatically adjust to let in more light. The exact opposite will happen when it’s sunny. These energy efficient windows will save everyone a huge amount of money.
2. A Better Way To Cool Roofs
If you wanted to cool a roof down today you would coat it with a material full of specialized pigments. This would allow roofs to deflect the sun and they’d absorb less heat in the process too.
Soon we’ll see the same thing being done, but it will be four times more effective. Roofs will never get too hot again. Anyone with a large roof is going to see a sharp decrease in their energy bills.
3. Low-E Windows Taking Over
It’s a mystery why these aren’t already extremely popular, but things are starting to change. Read low-E window replacement reviews and you’ll see everyone loves them because they’re extremely effective.
They’ll keep heat outside in summer or inside in winter. People don’t even have to buy new windows to enjoy the technology. All they’ll need is a low-E film to place over their current ones.
4. Magnets Will Cool Fridges
Refrigerators haven’t changed much in a very long time. They’re still using a vapor compression process that wastes energy while harming the environment. It won’t be long until they’ll be cooled using magnets instead.
The magnetocaloric effect is going to revolutionize cold food storage. The fluid these fridges are going to use will be water-based, which means the environment can rest easy and energy bills will drop.
5. Improving Our Current LEDs
Everyone who spent a lot of money on energy must have been very happy when LEDs became mainstream. Incandescent light bulbs belong in museums today because the new tech cut costs by up to 85 percent.
That doesn’t mean someone isn’t always trying to improve on an already great invention. The amount of lumens LEDs produce per watt isn’t great, but we’ve already found a way to increase it by 25 percent.
Maybe Homes Will Look Different Too
Do you think we’ll come up with new styles of homes that will take off? Surely it’s not out of the question. Everything inside homes seems to be changing for the better with each passing year. It’s going to continue doing so thanks to amazing inventors.
ShutterStock – Stock photo ID: 613912244
IEMA Urge Government’s Industrial Strategy Skills Overhaul To Adopt A “Long View Approach”
IEMA, in response to the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, have welcomed the focus on technical skills and education to boost “competence and capability” of tomorrow’s workforce.
Policy experts at the world’s leading professional association of Environment and Sustainability professionals has today welcomed Prime Minister Teresa May’s confirmation that an overhaul of technical education and skills will form a central part of the Plan for Britain – but warns the strategy must be one for the long term.
Martin Baxter, Chief Policy Advisor at IEMA said this morning that the approach and predicted investment in building a stronger technical skills portfolio to boost the UK’s productivity and economic resilience is positive, and presents an opportunity to drive the UK’s skills profile and commitment to sustainability outside of the EU.
Commenting on the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, Baxter said today:
“Government must use the Industrial Strategy as an opportunity to accelerate the UK’s transition to a low-carbon, resource efficient economy – one that is flexible and agile and which gives a progressive outlook for the UK’s future outside the EU.
We welcome the focus on skills and education, as it is vital that tomorrow’s workforce has the competence and capability to innovate and compete globally in high-value manufacturing and leading technology.
There is a real opportunity with the Industrial Strategy, and forthcoming 25 year Environment Plan and Carbon Emissions Reduction Plan, to set long-term economic and environmental outcomes which set the conditions to unlock investment, enhance natural capital and provide employment and export opportunities for UK business.
We will ensure that the Environment and Sustainability profession makes a positive contribution in responding to the Green Paper.”