The Circular Economy and the need for “A Good Disruption”
“A Good Disruption makes a compelling case for redefining economic prosperity, unlocking creativity and kickstarting regenerative cycles in the digital age.” — Ellen MacArthur, Founder, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation
Few will argue with the point that the challenge the digital economy has brought to our existing economic systems is shaking business to its core. Everything we knew to “work” before is being reshaped, redefined or discarded. Industry media and leaders have been heralding this change for years, yet are to this day worryingly pessimistic around suggested solutions.
Martin Stuchtey’s new book “A Good Disruption” provides much-needed new perspective on this.
At his recent talk at the Institute of Directors, he struck a refreshingly optimistic tone on how we can build prosperity for all in the new digital economy.
His main argument was that accelerating the move from a linear to a circular economy could solve many of our resource issues, but to achieve this new generations must look at everything around them, and be actively trying to redesign it from the bottom up.
In a circular economy, products can be thought of in two categories:
- Durable Goods that are leased, not owned, to encourage maximum utilisation and lifespan. Think cars leased by the mile or seat, or white goods where you buy hundreds or thousands of use cycles. To win here, think resource energy efficiency, optimisation, component repairability and refurbishment.
- Consumables: think food, water and energy. This an area where we must focus on creating increasingly closed, efficient systems, becoming much better at reducing and recirculating waste back into the cycle.
Effective implementation of circular models means that you can have more, with less, and so having a sustainable approach means having a well designed one, not one that results in having less utility.
The structural obstacle to accelerating this shift is a population that is married to consumption, and stakeholders that are incentivised to keep it this way. Fortunately for the world, younger generations are showing signs of taking a more coherent, long-term view. With falling birth rates (culminating in the recent achievement of “peak-child” — where the total number of children is in steady decline from today’s 1.9bn), we have the greatest opportunity yet to embed an approach to society and the economy where sustainability goes hand-in-hand with plenty, not scarcity.
Author: Alex Godsell, Client Solutions Manager at Freeformers