1. What is the Circular Economy? > 1.1 What is the Circular Economy? > 1.1.1. The Challenge
- You could hopefully put together a very short description of what the narrative is behind the circular economy.
- Because, if you like, it’s the stories we tell ourselves which are the motivators of our action.
- We have to replace those stories with ones which are much more accurate, which reflect reality much more accurately.
1. What is the Circular Economy? > 1.2 Principles of the Circular Economy > 1.2.1. The Circular Economy: Inspiration from Natural Systems
- In the living world there is no landfill, instead, materials flow.
- How can our waste build capital rather than reduce it? By rethinking and redesigning products and components and the packaging they come in, we can create safe and compostable materials that help grow more stuff.
- A way to cycle valuable metals, polymers and alloys so they maintain their quality and continue to be useful beyond the shelf life of individual products.
- Instead of the throwaway and replace culture we’ve become used to we’d adopt a return and renew one, where products and components are designed to be disassembled and regenerated.
- One solution may be to rethink the way we view ownership.
- Imagine if we could design products that come back to their makers.
- Their technical materials being reused and their biological parts increasing agricultural value.
- Imagine that these products are made and transported using renewable energy.
- The circular economy isn’t about one manufacturer changing one product.
- It’s about rethinking the operating system itself.
- We have a fantastic opportunity to open new perspectives and new horizons.
- Instead of remaining trapped in the frustrations of the present, with creativity and innovation, we really can rethink and redesign our future.
1. What is the Circular Economy? > 1.2 Principles of the Circular Economy > 1.2.2. Principles of a Circular Economy
- Welcome to this MOOC about the Circular Economy and thank you for joining us! In this first lesson, we will talk about the main principles of the circular economy.
- So what are the characteristics of living systems? And how do they relate to our manmade systems? First of all there is no such thing as waste in living systems.
- How can we replicate this idea in our manmade systems? If we redesigned products so they could be reused or disassembled at the end of life, we could keep those products and their materials at their highest value at all times.
- An economy, a nation or a company can derive greater value from diversity by sharing strengths and having a greater pool of resources to draw on.
- When we think in systems we begin to see the connections between people, places and ideas.
- This is why we need to think in systems, and that is the fourth principle of the circular economy.
- Governments, companies and societies are looking to the circular economy as a way ahead. In our next video we’ll explore why we need a circular economy.
1. What is the Circular Economy? > 1.3 Why do we need a Circular Economy? > 1.3.1. Why we need a Circular Economy (part 1)
- Let me just say a word about the linear economy and how it depends upon cheap energy, cheap materials and cheap credit, actually.
- So the idea of producing lots of stuff, making it available, making it cheap.
- If people couldn’t afford it: in some countries there was something called higher purchase, which was a way of buying on credit.
- Then later on there were things like credit cards, loans and overdrafts.
- So this was an era, which I think everybody in the more developed nations enjoyed post war, which was around cheap energy, cheap materials and cheap credit.
- You know, that wasn’t the natural state of the world, that was a particular thing that happened, a particular coming together.
- The fact that it is not there anymore means we change the economics.
1. What is the Circular Economy? > 1.3 Why do we need a Circular Economy? > 1.3.2. Why we need a Circular Economy (part 2)
- The current troubles in the fracking industry in the oil sector are that the price of oil is volatile and is currently low and is well below the cost of extracting this sort of oil.
- So that you’ve got resource questions both right through from the customer right through to the supplier, which makes it more problematical to deliver cheap materials, cheap energy and cheap credit actually.
- If you don’t have all those three running it is very hard to run a linear economy because a linear economy depends on cheap energy, cheap materials and cheap credit to get the throughput.
- The ecological services that are provided by the, if you like, the living world or the natural world, everybody has known that these are crucial to the survival of both the social and economic systems.
- They’re not costed in at the moment in either our understanding of them or in fact in the prices that we apply to resources which are extracted from the natural world or from the services which the living systems provide.
- We need an economic system that does, in a systems way, factor these sorts of things in.
- September 2008 taught us many things and one of the most important was that a financial system which is unstable accelerates boom and bust in the economy.
1. What is the Circular Economy? > 1.3 Why do we need a Circular Economy? > 1.3.3. Why we need a Circular Economy (part 3)
- The wages question is very interesting because it’s the counterpoint of the reduction of costs.
- In other words, we’ve had a very efficient economy lowering costs on the supply side, but we haven’t had sufficient demand on the other side to buy everything that’s produced.
- Wages have been stagnant or falling for a good number of years: for about 20-25 years overall.
- So this makes it really difficult to sell innovation for example.
- It makes it difficult to sell new products and services.
- If we believe the reports of workers like the McKinsey global institute, 3 billion new consumers will enter the market in the next 20-30 years.
- They will wish to have many of the same things that we enjoy at the moment.
1. What is the Circular Economy? > 1.6 In-Depth: the roots of the Circular Economy > 1.6.2 Interview Marian Chertow (1/2)
- Where is all the copper in the world? Where did it start out? In a mine somewhere, perhaps in Chile? What happened to it after it was turned into wiring? Maybe it stays in this wall for 40 years and maybe we don’t even have access to it until it comes out.
- Officially we are always tracking material and energy flows so we know exactly, like the copper, where does it come from and where does it wind up and what can be done to improve these cycles.
- Well I think there are some basic principles here that we are in absolute agreement on, and so I think that’s the same.
- I’ve learned in the last few days of being more exposed to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the way that they view the circular economy, that they’re very passionate about business, they’re very passionate about profits and they take the word economy very seriously.
- That’s a real experience we’ve had at Yale, where the nickel association comes in and says: ”well, you tell us how nickel will be used in the future, because you do this for a living.
1. What is the Circular Economy? > 1.6 In-Depth: the roots of the Circular Economy > 1.6.3 Interview Marian Chertow
- One thing that I respect that the people here at the Ellen MacArthur foundation have said is that ”We realize things aren’t always circular”.
- That’s important: not all leasing is good, not all remanufacturing is better than not remanufacturing.
- If that’s where the nut is let’s try to crack that”.
- So I think that’s another important part here, people think that things are static and they’re not static at all.
1. What is the Circular Economy? > 1.6 In-Depth: the roots of the Circular Economy > 1.6.4 Cradle to Cradle
- One of the most important things is to become native to the planet.
- Right now we lose phosphate at least Every day we need to pick up two grams of phosphate and put it back into biological systems.
- These nutrients get lost, there’s not one organic label which allows phosphate to go back.
- So we need to get nutrients back and the most important thing is to get diapers back as a first step, because diapers are ideal.
- So nutrient management is the most important thing if you want to go back into biological systems.
- The same thing we can do for the technical systems because we can make things which can go in the technical cycle forever.
- Everything is a nutrient for the biosphere or for the technosphere.