A regenerative ‘Circular Economy’ includes more localisation of economic activity

The Circular Economy is advocated to replace and address the social and environmental damage done by the current ‘Linear Economy’ with its ‘take, make, dispose’ model, depleting finite reserves to create products that end up in landfill or in incinerators. It achieves its objectives through long-lasting design, maintenance, repair, reuse, remanufacturing, refurbishing, and recycling – reducing waste to zero. Some examples of such practice are presented on the website of the World Economic Forum.

The idea of circular material flows as a model for the economy was presented in 1966 by an economist, Professor Kenneth Boulding, in his paper The Economics of the Coming Spaceship Earth.

In the 70s, Walter R. Stahel, architect, economist and a founding father of industrial sustainability, worked on developing a “closed loop” approach to production processes. He co-founded the Product-Life Institute in Geneva; its main goals are product-life extension, long-life goods, reconditioning activities, waste prevention, advocating “more localisation of economic activity”.

With Genevieve Reday, he outlined the vision of an economy in loops (or circular economy) and its impact on job creation, economic competitiveness, resource savings, and waste prevention. Their Hannah Reekman research report to the European Commission, “The Potential for Substituting Manpower for Energy” (1976) was published in 1982 as a book (left) Jobs for Tomorrow: The Potential for Substituting Manpower for Energy. 

The Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) a charity, which receives funding from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Northern Ireland Executive, Zero Waste Scotland, the Welsh Government and the European Union was set up in 2000.  From its headquarters in Banbury it works with businesses, individuals and communities to achieve a circular economy through helping them to reduce waste, develop sustainable products and use resources in an efficient way. Below: the header for its March report:

On 17 December 2012, the European Commission published a document entitled Manifesto for a Resource Efficient Europe. This manifesto clearly stated that “In a world with growing pressures on resources and the environment, the EU has no choice but to go for the transition to a resource-efficient and ultimately regenerative circular economy” and outlined potential pathways to a circular economy, in innovation and investment, regulation, tackling harmful subsidies, increasing opportunities for new business models, and setting clear targets.

‘Resource’, the first large scale event for the circular economy was held In March 2014 and Walter Stahel joined the programme of 100 business leaders and experts. Many major stakeholders and visitors from across the globe attended. An annual large scale event is now increasing the uptake of circular economy principles. Circular Economy Examples may be seen on the website of the World Economic Forum and there are indications that some multinational companies may be cherry-picking related ideas which cut costs and increase profits.

Some will have reservations about the involvement of McKinsey & Company, which has issued two reports on the subject – one commissioned by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

Peter Day explored the work of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and its associates on radio (In Business) on 23rd April 2015 – listen again here.

Ellen established this independent charity in 2010 and eloquently outlines the economic opportunity of a circular economy, giving the concept wide exposure and appeal.





Borroclub: sharing made easy

We’ve covered the Sharing Economy concept before on our blog. People sharing – for financial gain – the goods they have, rather than using up resources to buy their own, makes a lot of economic and environmental sense. So I was happy to discover Borroclub, a good example of a sharing economy initiative, last week whilst looking for a large gazebo for my mother’s Significant Birthday picnic. Despite it being a very new venture, they even actually had a gazebo listed already – so I’m convinced this enterprise has legs….

Borrowclub writes:

Borroclub was established after Matt, the owner, realised how many things he had accumulated in his garage that were used only once or twice a year. Meanwhile people locally were repeating the same process and he saw this as a waste of money and resources.

We have 4 clear aims for this service:

  1. Connect the community – More often than not we only know our immediate neighbours either side but by using the Borroclub service people will begin to form connections with others on the same street and neighbourhood. This could lead to alliances in other areas, e.g. to undertake litter collections or other worthwhile initiatives.
  2. Environmental benefits – Borrowing and lending will encourage reuse of items and in turn prolong their working life, reducing waste and our carbon footprint.
  3. Earnings potential for the owner – The owner of an item can receive a rental fee and monetise their idle assets.
  4. Savings potential for the borrower – Access to items rather than the need to own or the advantage of a making an informed purchase decision at a later date after ‘trying before buying’.

borroclub2Borroclub forms part of sharing economy, which is a market place where people share their idle items with strangers it could be cars, houses and household items. It also forms part of the circular economy – a movement championed by Dame Ellen MacArthur.

Matt comments “We have had many borro’s but I will always remember our first borrower, it was a chap who was keen to jet wash his patio and enjoy his garden in the good weather. He came across Borroclub when searching online to purchase a jet washer as his had just broken. He contacted the lender through the site to borrow a jet washer. For just £2 a day he was able to clean his patio in two days and saved over £100!”

Since its launch on 1st Jan 2015 Borroclub has introduced new features including taking all payments online, delivery and collection of items on behalf of the lender and borrower and the facility to take a security deposit, giving lenders extra peace of mind. We will also be launching an app very soon.

The list of items are endless it may initially be tools in your garage but it could also be a tuxedo, fascinator, fancy dress costume or some cool tech that you want to try before you buy it.

Contact details

Contact:       Matt Dredger

Tel No:    07961 078029

Email:     matt@borroclub.co.uk

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/borroclub?ref=hl

Twitter:       @borroclub
Hope it thrives!

Karen Leach