Resource Use

Online Festival of Circular Economy opens with challenge to go 'beyond net zero'

The Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM) has launched its Festival of Circular Economy, in collaboration with various organisations in the Circular Economy, including the Circular Economy Institute, ReLondon and WRAP.

Festival of Circular EconomyRunning from today (28 November) until 1 December, the online festival hosted by keynote speaker Mark Shayler has a line-up including corporations like Amazon and L’Oréal and Diageo, as well as ‘mindset changers’ like Marga Hoek, Tony Juniper and Charlie Luxton.

Keynote session with Marga Hoek

In today’s first keynote session, Marga Hoek – global speaker and author – presented how today’s Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) and technological innovations can have a positive impact when it comes to businesses transitioning towards a circular, sustainable world.

Although environmental problems pose evident threats and must be solved – such as declining resources, food waste, the climate emergency and plastic waste – Hoek says that these may actually create opportunities for businesses.

Companies that are engaging with circular models are entering new growth markets and must decouple growth to match the size of environmental problems, Hoek reveals. But this “is an opportunity, not just a problem” – which businesses must recognise. In fact, the Circular Economy could generate $4.5 trillion of additional economic output by 2030.

Further, Marga said that businesses will need to go beyond “net zero”, not just stopping environmental harm, but having a positive impact value for people and the planet – as well as generating financial value. A “positive impact”, Hoek highlights, “is where the biggest business opportunities lie”.

Speaking on the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and our current “age of consequences”, Hoek tells delegates that “when you have the knowledge, then comes the responsibility” to act.

“We have a choice to use technology for good, in a way that we can actually make up for lost time” Hoek finishes. If we put our minds and investment to embrace technology for good, positive use then we could make “10 times more progress in a year than we currently do”.

Panel: Three big questions on how to achieve a truly circular economy

The second significant event of the day was a panel focusing on ‘three big questions’ on achieving a truly circular economy. The session was hosted by Jose Uribe-Echevarria and featured expertise from four industry professionals. Mark Shayler opened it.

The panel kicked off by discussing the need to measure circularity if it is going to be achieved. Matthew Fraser (Head of Research and Development and Lead of the Circularity Gap Reporting Initiative) discussed his work on this topic and a key challenge facing circularity today is a lack of data on the end-of-life of materials. Pauline Metivier (Head of Business Transformation and Sector Support at ReLondon) added: “You can’t improve what you don’t measure”.

Connor Bryant (Co-founder of Rubbish Ideas and The Rubbish Project) pointed out that the economy is currently geared towards valuing virgin materials over recycled and other materials. The panel agreed that this focus needs to shift if circularity is to be achieved. Bryant continued that there needs to be less focus on the role of the consumer, and more on the role of governments and waste management professionals.

Joël Tronchon, Head of Sustainability at L’Oreal, furthered this by looking at L’Oreal’s initiatives to work with suppliers and companies at every level of the supply chain to achieve circularity.

The session ended with Uribe-Echevarria summarising the thought that ‘we don’t do it alone, circularity is a game we all play together’.