circular economy – the new way to do business?
Last week we had the honour to welcome Romain Poulles, the founder of Luxembourg Center of Circular Economy, to speak at our Foundry Sustainability: Circular Economy event. Foundry Sustainability is a series focusing on sustainable development and issues in the current business life. For us, circular economy felt like a major thing to talk about, and Luxembourg-based Romain Poulles with his 20 years of experience in sustainability and 10 years in the circular economy was an interesting speaker to listen to.
Global development has experienced extreme growth during the past decades but at the expense of the natural environment. The major issue is that the world is based on a so-called linear model and our natural resources to maintain that model are reaching their limit. According to Poulles, thinking in a linear way with a trace of sustainability means focusing on "doing less bad" and "optimising a system that is already broken.''
For him, this is not the right way to make the changes. As per Poulles, first and foremost we need to get rid of the idea of waste, because, in a circular economy, everything has to be viewed as a resource. The perfect product has no endpoint and therefore there is no waste. Everything keeps going around in circles. This is extremely important because the circular economy business model fails unless this criteria is fulfilled.
Poulles encouraged people to be more creative. He underlined that serious constraints can also foster creativity and thinking outside of the box. Interesting ideas and innovations are waiting to be born under pressure. "Fear of change is somebody else's opportunity", as Poulles said.
Poulles also introduced the idea of sharing and/or giving access as opposed to the idea of ownership of products, suggesting that this can help eliminate obsolescence. He stated that "every product will become a service in the future”. As per Poulles, products becoming services increases sustainability as working models like this make it necessary for the producers to produce products with circular, not linear, ideology to make sure their business stays profitable. The responsibility moves towards producers and companies instead of just laying on the shoulders of individual end-users.