In this write up, we wanted to take a look at just how vital technology will be in accelerating towards a circular economy, and the consumption overhaul that needs to happen.
At this point in our collective concern over the growing climate crisis, we know what needs to be done but it’s an entirely different matter on how to make that necessary change happen. We see the immense power that technology yields in this battle and are the biggest proponents of utilising it. This holds especially true when it comes to the circular economy model.
But what exactly is a circular economy?
Glad you asked! A circular economy is part of the solution to breaking the mould of our current linear system where products are just made, used and binned off. In a circular economy, products, services and systems are designed to maximise their value and minimise waste. It’s an all-encompassing approach to life and business, where everything has value and nothing is wasted. Simply put, it can be explained as ‘make, use, remake’ as opposed to the current system that is wreaking havoc on our environment.
The Ellen Macarthur Foundation does an excellent job of explaining it further here
Good thing technology is up to the task of helping do just that!
And that is exactly why we wanted to focus a webinar around this extremely important topic. We wanted to take a look at just how vital technology will be in accelerating towards a circular economy, and with the overhaul that needs to happen, not only in the manufacturing infrastructure but behaviour change of the consumer. This cannot be solved by one person or one business, it is a collective effort, which is exactly why we launched Ignite, as we believe technology can support sustainable living and create a better future for all.
While we know our way around technology, there are so many other industries that are in our blind spot, so we brought in the experts to give us their industry know-how and to break it down just how doable this seemingly impossible task is! So our amazing hosts Rich and Gabby, set out to dive in and learn all we could from our panel of experts, including…
First, we started with what the circular economy meant to each of our panelists, as well as the wider industry they work in.
Liv Montuori, a sustainable fashion consultant, kicked off this topic by stating how much needed to be done in the fashion industry, with every process being rethought. Consumers are unaware of what they are buying, most of the time, so this needs to be thought about in the design stage and more emphasis to be placed on the impact.
Steve Haskew, Head of Sustainability and Social Leadership at Circular Computing, mentioned that their big driver is to get people to think about their consumption habits and by reusing what has already been made in order to preserve resources and have a significant effect on climate.
Jo Chidley, Founder of Beauty Kitchen, agreed and added that the industry they work in, health and beauty, is not known for sustainability, which is why they set up Beauty Kitchen. However, as their products are FMCG, they can bring the circular economy into peoples lives, without them even realising.
And why isn’t it being more widely adopted?
Jo started off by mentioning that when you develop products that fit into the circular economy, because they are from a renewable resource or going to be reused, there is a longer term investment. This puts up an immediate barrier for businesses, especially those that are focused only on making profit. However, even though it is a higher initial cost, longer term these businesses tend to last longer and are genuinely doing the right thing, so these types of organisations should be encouraged.
Steve brought up that their main challenge was one of perception. When you think of second-hand equipment, often people think about tech that someone is disposing of. Therefore stamping out the term waste, and changing it to resources of tomorrow.
Rich, MD at 3 Sided Cube, agreed that there is a big education piece. Through research that we have commissioned, it is clear that there is a massive intention and action gap for consumers. Jo added that you don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly, but actually, you need millions of people doing it imperfectly!
Liv mentioned that technology could really help every part of the process within the fashion industry, such as reducing material wastage, but also traceability so it is really clear where products have come from and what their impact is on the planet.
Rich added that the technology that is needed, is not new or shiny, it is just implementing existing technology in the right way. Jo agreed and felt that technology had pushed the circular economy further, and how exciting the next few years will be!
To hear more about how technology can really help the circular economy, then please watch the full virtual event below:
Published on February 24, 2021, last updated on March 31, 2021