While we can rejoice in the sharp rise of the global middle class, especially in emerging economies, the accompanying growth in consumption puts further pressure on raw materials and underscores the limits of our linear economic model — “take, make, dispose”. According to the Global Footprint Network, it now takes the earth 18 months to regenerate the natural resources we use in one year. Obviously, this is not sustainable.
But there are promising developments under way, too, as innovators around the world pave the way for a “circular” economy to emerge at all levels, giving rise to new business models and economic opportunities.
Today, as a member of Solutions&Co, a network of 20 leading business newspapers from around the world, the Hong Kong Economic Journal’s EJ Insight brings you stories about the most innovative companies and initiatives accelerating our transition towards a circular economy.
Some companies are considering their products’ life cycles, including recycling, as early as the design phase. Certain cities are organizing industrial parks where the waste of one company becomes the input of another. National governments have started banning plastic bags and experimenting with repair tax incentives. Consumers can rent blue jeans instead of buying them. And urban farms are sprouting out of plastic bottles in Cameroon.
The circular economy tackles problems at their roots by reducing our dependence on finite products. It shifts our economies towards a more virtuous circle, designing out waste at all levels while restoring our manufactured, human, social, natural and financial capital. This new economy also represents a remarkable opportunity to protect the environment while creating jobs and wealth—an estimated 1.8 trillion euros by 2030 in Europe alone.
And though the circular economy addresses complex problems, it should not be seen as a simple, standardized solution. Rather, it is a collaborative effort in which everyone— citizens, companies, cities, nations—has a role to play.
For this third edition of Solutions&Co, spearheaded by the social enterprise Sparknews, our readers in China, Brazil, South Africa, India, France, Germany, the UK and elsewhere will discover a range of initiatives accelerating the world’s transition toward a circular economy. By sharing these stories, our media network spreads the word about innovative solutions to climate issues near and far.
Businesses featured in our previous editions have attracted new opportunities as a result; some have forged partnerships with major companies and organizations. These projects have also inspired the founding partner of Solutions&Co, Total, which is seeking out circular solutions for a sustainable energy transition.
To go a step further, we have created an e-book with insights from leading circular economy experts such as William McDonough, Claire Pinet or Jean-Marc Boursier. Download it via www.solutionsandco.org and discover dozens of innovative companies, as well as input from experts and business executives, all working to create virtuous economic circles.
The article is written by Christian de Boisredon, founder of Sparknews and Ashoka Fellow & The Sparknews Team.
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