Embracing the circular economy: shaping a sustainable future

Author: Sarah Shannon
Date:  July 12, 2023

Circular economy is the hottest topic in sustainability right now. So what is the circular economy?

Unlike the dominant linear economy of a ‘take, make, consume and bin’ the circular economy revolves around three principles:

  • keep products and materials in use
  • cut out waste and pollution  
  • foster regeneration of natural systems

Circularity is mostly touched on in conversations with nods of the heads agreeing that it is the right thing to do. Today, not enough businesses are embracing the circular economy.

The good news is there are businesses leading the way. Organisations like Lenovo computers, Volvo cars, Ikea and Adidas are leaving behind the destructive linear economy and embracing the circular economy to reduce consumption of raw materials, carbon emissions and reduce waste.

A faster transition requires a systematic shift in the way businesses think and design products following the three principles outlined above. It also requires a fundamental shift in the way individuals consume products and services to influence change. According to European Parliament every European consumes an average of 14 tonnes of raw materials per annum and produces 5 tonnes of waste.*

*https://multimedia.europarl.europa.eu/en/video/x_V007-0034

What is holding businesses back?

Businesses are held back from making the shift either because they don’t know where to begin or fear the short term costs to shift business operations and processes.

Instead, now is the time to think differently - look to the long term savings for the business and of course the safety of the people and our planet.

Benefits of the circular economy

From the all important environmental perspective it reduces resource extraction, lowers levels of pollution and minimises wastage.

For the businesses embracing the circular economy they are experiencing numerous benefits such as:

  • Stimulating innovation
  • Attracting investment/funding
  • Gaining competitive advantage
  • Creating new business opportunities
  • Enhancing brand reputation
  • Generating job opportunities
  • Saving on costs of materials
  • Boosting the bottom line

However, achieving a circular economy requires collaborative efforts from governments, businesses, and individuals. A company can’t work on its own to achieve a circular economy. Achieving a successful transition to a circular economy requires collaborative efforts from governments, businesses and individuals. By considering each third–party partnership carefully and ensuring suppliers share the same sustainability goals they can work together to transition faster. That’s where your responsible sourcing team can play an influential role as they armed with the knowledge and tools to select suppliers that meet sustainability standards.  

Discover more about procurement best practice to free up precious time to focus on your strategic goals. Visit Procurement Best Practice 

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