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Spotlight on…The Circular Economy for Business

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In our next ‘Spotlight on’ article as part of the Climate Action Programme, Bethan Jones, Director at Resource Futures, a Partnership Supporting Member, gives an overview of the circular economy and how organisations can become more circular.

So, what is the circular economy? Basically, it’s about finding ways to keep resources in use whilst also producing products and services that are economically viable. For too long our economy has been focused on the linear approach – take, make, dispose – which results in huge amounts of wasted resources.

Public awareness of this waste is increasing by the day and customer demand for new circular business models and products can be seen across multiple sectors. Not only does switching to a circular business model provide that positive brand exposure by being seen to do ‘the right thing’; it also makes good business sense and could well be what keeps your business running in the long-term. I truly believe that those who don’t make this circular change are going to find it more and more challenging to survive.

The benefits

Having supported many businesses over the years to approach this change, Resource Futures has put together a circular economy guide for businesses; walking you through five steps to help you embrace the circular economy in your business by exploring opportunities to introduce circularity into your products, services or even your operating model.

Circular businesses come in many shapes and sizes. Our guide shares examples of these and emphasises the benefits of a circular approach; from new revenue generation, gaining competitive advantage, developing resilience and reducing risk, improving customer retention and growth, and enhancing employee and customer wellbeing.

No single business starts in the same place or follows the same path, which is why we explore opportunities at every stage of the business in order to design out waste and pave the way for a more resource-efficient future.

© Circular Flanders

Opportunities for change can be found within:

  • Sourcing e.g. clean energy, green and ethical supply chains
  • Design and production e.g. modular design, recycled content
  • Packaging and distribution e.g. takeback schemes and refill options
  • Use e.g. repair services, shared ownership
  • End of life e.g. reuse, refurbish, recycle

The first step is to recognise where you are on your circular journey and then identify the type of support you need to progress. This could include innovation; market research; stakeholder engagement; customer journey mapping; operational, financial or carbon modelling; funding support – and you may have the resource within your business to tackle these, but you might also need outside specialist support. The next step is to undertake pilots to assess viability and then scale up with a full implementation roll-out. Finally, don’t forget to measure progress and communicate your successes.

This is a pivotal time to make change happen. Businesses that act now can use the circular economy to their advantage and reap the benefits. To find out more download Embracing the circular economy in your business: a five-step guide.

About the Author

Bethan has been focused on a career in sustainability since 2015, having spent earlier roles working with big tech brands and Silicon Valley start-ups. Resource Futures is one of the Partnership’s founding supporting members and is an employee-owned, independent environmental consultancy with a 30-year heritage in the waste and resources industry. Certified as a B Corp, the company is committed to having a positive impact and using business as a force for good. You can also read Resource futures’ latest Impact Report here.

To find out more about Resource Futures visit our website and follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook.

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