The private sector has started its transition to a more circular economy. Resources for the journey are available.

Circular Economy and Sustainability

Every generation, it seems needs to coin its own language for ideas that permeate culture. While the idea of sustainable development has been around since late in the 20th century, concepts have evolved from the first codified language developed during the Brundtland Report in 1987. The approach might be characterized as “doing less harm” while doing business.

The idea of a regenerative or circular economy evolved at the end of the 20th century, beginning of our current century. Our first exposure to this concept was in the form of the book, Cradle to Cradle by Michal Braungart and William McDonough (2002) and was further informed by the work of Janine Benyus’ Biomimicry (1997). This approach might be characterized as emulating nature where waste from one process is nutrient for another.

Why bring up this background? Because it helps us understand how to develop approaches for the companies we serve. Depending on the processes, methods or cultural sustainability references that already exist within companies, we adjust our program design accordingly.

WBCSD

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development is a CEO led organization of over 200 companies. Their Solutions Lab for the Circular Economy is a great resource whether your company has been “on the sustainability path” or is just starting out. They are quick to point out from experience that the move to a circular economy can be enormously challenging because it definitely is NOT “business as usual.”

It would be well worth the time to review their “CEO Guide to the Circular Economy” if you’re contemplating a move for your company. Be aware that you will need to assess several organizational areas if you decide to undertake a move to a more circular business model:

Capacity for change

Company cultures saturated with change initiatives will have no appetite for change. It is prudent in these organizations to plan for change as part of natural business cycles as opposed to special initiatives.

Capability to make the requisite changes

Technology, processes and skill sets for the circular economy are often the greatest hurdles to making the necessary transformational change.

Vision, Strategy and Roadmap

Keep in mind that the vision of your business may shift as you ponder how to turn into a regenerative business. Different products, services and partners may be the result in this shift in vision. Creating the strategy and roadmap are essential to realizing your vision. And, as the WBCSD advises, “start small and scale” for the best result.

Lastly, don’t forget to measure your progress! One of the most important activities you will do is to figure out how you will track progress. The measures you create are “living” evidence of your progress. As your efforts mature, so too should your progress indicators.

We enable transformational change in companies. If you’re thinking about making a move to a more circular business model or making changes in your sustainability efforts, we’re here to help.