Supported by the Veolia Foundation, The Conversation France website now has a new section devoted to the circular economy. Interview with Dr. Thierry Vandevelde, who heads the Foundation.

There’s been a buzz around the circular economy for the past few years. From our perspective, it is another way to discuss sustainability as it deals with the reduction or elimination of waste, protects natural resources, and creates new economic opportunities. We all have a role in the circular economy, whether we’re using natural resources, creating new products or consuming them. We all need to be stewards in production and consumption. We need to manage the entire product life cycle of everything we use.

Some industries like consumer package goods have been factoring in consumers for nearly a decade. As foreign as it might have felt at first, long term plans for these companies include recycling and reuse as part of the company responsibility, not just in operations, but after purchase. Many of these concepts were laid out nearly twenty years ago in “Natural Capitalism” by Paul Hawken, Amory B Lovins and Hunter Lovins.

What Does This Mean for the Oil and Gas Sector?

In the Oil and Gas Sector, where many at Expressworks have spent several decades managing change on behalf of our clients, the first acknowledgement that company responsibility for the entire product life cycle resides with the producer, came in November, 2017. Ben Van Beurden, CEO of Shell  announced that the company will cut its carbon footprint in half by rebalancing it’s portfolio to lower carbon energy, carbon capture and storage, planting forests and offsetting consumer carbon. We blogged about his speech during CERA Week in March. Shell is not the only oil and gas company to do this. Statoil has announced that it will change its name to Equinor to reflect a broader energy focus.

Circles Within Circles

The key to understanding the circular economy is to define your sphere of focus. Are you looking at the economy which is more in your control like production and operations,? Are you looking at including your supply chain? Are your customers part of the circle? You may want to think in terms of concentric circles.

Here’s what the ideal end state would look like:

However, the circular economics will take time to perfect so the mapping may end up looking more like:

These are early days for this kind of thinking in oil and gas. How to move companies from traditional business models to the new structures and models needed to persist into the future requires innovation and culture change. That’s where Expressworks can help. Give us a call to find out how.

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