This post is by Thomas Fischer, head of the Circular Economy Programme at Environmental Action Germany (DUH)
This week we celebrated a rather tragic landmark: the point when we used up all the resources that our planet can regenerate in one year. The fact that Earth Overshoot Day happened in early August points to the gravity of resource overconsumption, but the costs are already visible in ocean acidification, water pollution, destruction of forests and nearly every other environmental problem. Fortunately, there is a solution: a resource efficient circular economy. Germany has pursued a circular economy agenda for the past decade in industry, but retailers haven’t been keeping up.
This post first appeared on BusinessGreen.
There’s an old joke about generating electricity from nuclear fusion: that it’s always just 50 years away, no matter when you’re starting from. Perhaps unfairly, I have the same feeling about industrial symbiosis, the idea that the unwanted by-products of one manufacturing process become the valued inputs for another. Despite the concept being decades old, it’s still much more likely to feature in academic reports than on boardroom agendas or factory floors. Hopefully that’s about to change, as promoting industrial symbiosis is a priority for Germany’s leadership of the G7 this year. But, if the G7 initiative is to prove more successful at embedding the theory in business thinking, it’s worth considering where industrial symbiosis has and hasn’t worked before.
This post was first published on The Huffington Post.
Britain faces many economic challenges: the need to restore macroeconomic stability, improve competitiveness, protect living standards and address rising inequality. These challenges have spurred much creative thinking by economists in areas such as monetary policy, taxation, labour market reform and education and training. Yet far less prominence has been given to an issue that affects all of these economic challenges: the impact of rising resource prices. Read more
This post is by US journalist Jim Witkin, based on an interview with William McDonough, co-author of a seminal book on the circular economy, Cradle to cradle: remaking the way we make things. Green Alliance hosted its UK launch in 2009. Here, McDonough talks about his new book. This article was originally posted on Guardian Sustainable Business.
Designer, adviser and author William McDonough wants us to think differently about how we design our products, buildings and urban environments.
McDonough, who often sports a bow tie, has the look of a professor. He speaks softly even as he discusses some very weighty topics. “Design is the first signal of human intention,” he told me in a recent interview, “and if our intention is to destroy the planet, we’re doing a great job.” Read more
Last week, I attended ‘Redesigning the future‘, an RSA Great Recovery debate on the role of design in a circular economy.
Redesign certainly makes circular systems cheaper and more effective. In the case of end-of-life vehicles, design for recycling will help to turn previously unrecycled plastic, glass, and electronics from old cars into nearly £40 million of recovered resources in the UK by 2015. Read more
Our economy has been built on a wasteful pattern: we make short-lived products out of valuable raw materials we dig out of the ground, and then stick them (and the resources that made them) back in the ground as landfill. This no longer makes sense.
The economics are clear. Even broken products contain materials which should be worth enough to keep them out of landfill. Because these products have been difficult to collect and recycle, we continue to lose the resources they’re made of. It turns out that getting materials out of landfill is surprisingly hard. Market signals haven’t been enough on their own. Read more
This post is by Julie Hill, Green Alliance associate and chair of the Circular Economy Task Force launched by Green Alliance.
Today Green Alliance launches the Circular Economy Task Force. For me, this represents unimaginable progress from when I first entered this debate more than 15 years ago, a debate largely concerned with how to construct a better landfill. For many years it was the European Union that pushed the UK to let go of our attachment to landfill and aim for higher recycling, with considerable success. But today, I am pleased to say, the language of the Circular Economy is coming as strongly from the UK as from other leading countries.
This is a guest post by Sarah Griffith, senior researcher at Brook Lyndhurst
To use our resources more sustainably, do we ‘just need to wake up’? This is the suggestion from Generation Awake, an EU campaign fronted by three singing shopping bags, which was launched last month with the aim of making “resource efficiency a habit.” It is one of numerous initiatives and events around ‘resource efficiency’ that tie in with the European Week for Waste Reduction (19th – 27th November): WWF held a conference on the topic in October ; the European Commission has adopted a Roadmap to a resource efficient Europe; and my colleagues are speaking at the Resource Recovery Forum’s “Influencing Resourceful Behaviours” conference on 23rd November.
It was Generation Awake, however, that gave me most pause for thought. At the campaign launch, European Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik is reported as saying:
“With our economy in difficulty and our resources dwindling, it’s time to start rethinking some of our habits. Using resources more carefully not only helps protect the environment, but saves money and reduces business costs. It’s about using less to do more. Everyone can do their bit. We just need to wake up!” Read more