While consumers can ultimately vote with their feet and thus, define the fate of the circular economy, companies play a crucial role in helping consumers make the leap to closed loop.
It takes a considerable amount of time for your brain and body to be rewired for a new routine. But in the case of the circular economy, that’s exactly what we need to do – embrace new habits. We need to unlearn our old, wasteful ways of production and consumption and shift to a new way of thinking about our resources.
And it’s not just for the sake of change – the potential macroeconomic benefits are vast, ranging from resource efficiency and reduced emissions to the creation of new businesses and jobs. Sitra, the Finnish Innovation Fund, estimates that transitioning to a more circular economy could halve EU industrial emissions by 2050. Another study by McKinsey and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation found that the circular economy could boost Europe’s resource productivity by 3% per by 2030, thus creating direct cost savings of 600 billion euros per year and another 1.8 trillion euros in other economic benefits. Given the potential benefits, it’s no wonder the World Economic Forum calls the circular economy a trillion-dollar opportunity.
Because we all know it’s easier to learn a new skill when it’s broken into simple steps, it’s no surprise that countries such as Finland and France, and major cities like London, have formed their own roadmap for circular economy. They’ve each provided concrete recommendations for different actors and industries that they hope will drive investments and policy and thus, favour long-term innovation for the circular economy.
Companies in the circular economy?
While these plans are undoubtedly important steps in closing the loop, policy can only go so far. In bringing the circular economy from blueprint to business-as-usual, companies play the most crucial role. They need to adjust to the rules of this new economy, creating products and services that effectively design out waste. Only by designing with the product’s entire lifecycle in mind can we begin to shift from our linear logic to a closed-loop economy.
We all know that breaking out of bad habits is hard – and we’ve sure spent a long time learning our linear way of operating. If individual habits take months to form, shifting our entire perspective from linear to circular is no easy feat. However, if there’s something science also has to say about forming habits, it’s that setbacks don’t matter – the most important thing is to simply get started.
Who’s with us?
PS. If you’re looking to learn new habits but are stuck for ideas, follow #3StepChallenge (#dailycircular and #3StepIT) to see how 3Steppers are reshaping their routines in favour of a more circular society!