Key takeaways from our CogX panel on how to shape the circular economy for 2030

Published on
June 10, 2020

Table of Contents

What can we do to eliminate waste from the production of goods? How can we build resilience into our product supply chains? And what sort of collaboration and data systems do we need to start turning businesses into a more circular model? See how we addressed this our CogX2020 talk…

This week, our founder and CEO, Jessi Baker, was on a panel at the CogX Global Leadership Summit to discuss the circular economy and where it’s heading.As a part of their “Industry 4.0 and sustainable supply chains” focus, we were joined by:

  • Fiona Place, Director at Anthesis Group
  • Greg Lawton, Co-founder at Nodes & Links
  • JJ (Juan José) Freijo Vice President, Global Head of Sustainability at Brambles
  • Becki Clarke, Senior Digital Consultant at Perform Green (moderator)

Together, we talked about the key elements required to get us to a more sustainable future.But before we jump into solutions, let’s be clear on what problem we’re trying to solve…

What is the circular economy?

"An economy that is restorative and regenerative by design.” According to the leading advocacy organisation for circularity, The Ellen Macarthur Foundation, this is based on three core principles:

  • Designing out waste and pollution
  • Keeping products and materials in use
  • Regenerating natural systems

Circularity is about keeping all of the materials in the economy and not letting them go to waste, thereby closing the loop. Everything then becomes more valued and we don’t have to endlessly take from the earth.

Circular Economy Diagram - Ellen Macarthur Foundation
Image credit: The circular economy “butterfly” diagram aims to “capture the flow of materials, nutrients, components, and products, whilst adding an element of financial value.” – The Ellen Macarthur Foundation

Key takeaways

Transparency is fundamental. In order to create a truly circular economy, we need transparency on all materials, where they come from, their journey and their full impact on people and planet along the way. We also need to see who all sits in the supply chain. Transparency around that is needed to help create the open data systems required to underpin the circular economy.

Customers will become your suppliers. It’s increasingly easy to have a digital, direct connection with your customers. Through whatever interface that takes, from QR codes to social media – it’s essential to educate them on the value of materials so you can collect them back or have them put correctly back into the system.

Every product and material will be tracked. This has already started (as we’ve done recently with Canary and Auping). Enabling access to historical information on products and component materials means you can better place their future. This is to ensure real multiple-loop recycling – not waste or down-cycling.

“The first step is very simple, you just have to map it. And if you can't map all of it, you map part of it.” – Greg Lawton, Co-founder at Nodes & Links

Everyone will work towards the same goal. The new circular model commands collaboration. Beyond the economics of circularity, there’s also a brand-building aspect. Which means that beyond supplier networks and production teams – marketing is also at the table to communicate this to your customers.

“Doing things like circular economy initiatives are not just about reducing risks or reducing and increasing efficiency. They are also about appealing to a whole new type of customer and being relevant to them.” – Jessi Baker, founder & CEO of Provenance

In short, the availability and quality of data in a circular business model are crucial. We need open and transparent information to share within our networks, across our suppliers and, critically, with our customers to complete the loop.Watch the full conversation below...

Get in touch to talk about how our team and tools can support your journey.

Find eco-conscious partners for your next social campaign

Read our curated list of sustainability-focused social media personalities in beauty and well-being, household and food and drink.