Combining the contemporary idea of a circular economy with the worldviews preserved by indigenous people through generations could offer a path to a more prosperous global economy.

Image for post
Image for post

Te Puia in Rotorua was the location for the first ever Ōhanga Āmiomio Pacific Summit, on the topic of the circular economy, hosted by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and New Zealand Ministry for the Environment. Since 2010, the circular economy has moved beyond a niche topic, to an area of research and practice, and an undeniable trend around the world. Faced with the current stalling take-make-waste model, with its chronic pollution, diminishing returns, and unhealthy outcomes, people are looking for a new vision for an economy that works, now and in the future. …


Smart policy can inspire better material choices, innovative business models, and the continual circulation of value.

Simon Widmer and Joe Iles

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Tools For Motivation on Unsplash

Since its inception in 2010, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation has placed design as crucial to achieving a circular economy. In fact, the very first initiative from the Foundation was Project ReDesign, which invited thousands of students to rethink products and systems for a circular economy.

Discussions around the circular economy in intervening years often serve to remind us of the importance of design, namely that the circular economy is a model for an economy that is regenerative by design.

Why is this? If you look at many of the shortcomings of today’s take, make, dispose, linear economy, the eventual negative impacts have been set in motion at the design stage. The decisions made during this process influence what will happen downstream — how a product is made, used, and disposed of, whether it will end up in an incinerator, landfill, ocean or unused in someone’s garage. These choices could also set an item on the path to being shared, repaired, recovered, remanufactured, or composted. Ultimately, is the creation fit for a circular economy? Does it reinforce the status quo of extraction and consumption, or aspire to circulation and regeneration — putting back more than we take out? This is only made possible upstream, at the design phase. As materials expert Alysia Garmulewicz once quipped, “you can’t unscramble an omelette”. …


Some of the biggest brands in electronics and furniture have worked together to discover how 3D printing can disrupt the way they make and use spare parts.

Image for post
Image for post
A 3D printed lever for a Bugaboo stroller.

As part of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Circular Economy 100 platform, HP, Teleplan, IKEA, Philips, and iFixit embarked on a year-long collaborative project (Co.Project) exploring new applications of 3D printing technology.

The project focused specifically on spare parts. Today, it can be difficult for brands and manufacturers to know when and how to deal with spare parts. As products change and are redesigned, the equipment used to make the parts changes too. So a business can’t continue to make spare parts for products produced years ago. One option could be to produce spare parts in bulk, but there’s no way to predict future need, to know which parts to make, how many and how long they will last. …


Image for post
Image for post

Every day, we’re surrounded by technology that we take for granted. GPS, the Internet, barcodes, touchscreens…but how often do we stop to ask where these ideas originate, and how they have been funded and developed?

While we might associate these innovations with cutting-edge tech companies, Mariana Mazzucato says it’s actually the state that we have to thank.

Mazzucato is on a myth-busting mission. She’s challenging the widespread belief that the private sector is fast-paced, exciting and innovative, while the public sector is slow, stuffy and bureaucratic. …


Image for post
Image for post

Everyone’s talking about blockchain. But if you can get your head around what blockchain is, it’s still unclear how this trend will impact business and the economy, and what it could mean for customers.

“Starting to use the internet not just to exchange data but to fundamentally exchange value has humongous potential for our material world”

Blockchain has potential to disrupt financial markets, but what if every great product came with information about who it was made by, where it came from, and what it is made of? Could blockchain enable better traceability of products, components and materials?

Jessi Baker, Founder and CEO of the startup Provenance, reckons that smart businesses should be look at blockchain now — and some have already started.

Hear Jessi’s talk from Summit 2018:


Image for post
Image for post

One reason that the circular economy has gained so much attention in recent years is down to the promising economic opportunity it presents. Studies from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and others have outlined how adopting circular design strategies could save resources, energy and money, while new business models could open up brand new revenue opportunities.

Julie Wainwright has learnt this first hand. In 2010, she founded The RealReal, a startup specialising in the resale of luxury designer clothing. The online marketplace has sold over six million pre-owned items since launch, keeping high quality clothing in use and worn for longer.

“All we sell is used things. …


Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Marius Masalar on Unsplash

When you hear the word ‘design’, what images come to mind?

Do you think of someone sketching products or creating a 3D model? A team making a prototype? A beautiful, timeless object?

Dr John Maeda says that type of design is in the past. Through his diverse career — including work at MIT, the creation of the ‘Laws of Simplicity’, Presidency at Rhode Island School of Design and now at startup Automattic — Maeda says design has changed forever.

Design truly can change the world, from tackling inequality to improving our cities. But to have a meaningful impact, designers will need to move beyond aesthetic design and embrace the new frontier: computational design.

Recorded at DIF 2017. Don’t miss out on this year’s event — find out more here.


Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Himesh Kumar Behera on Unsplash

Which country is winning the race to a circular economy? It’s not something one country can achieve by themselves, but in recent years, certain nations have taken the lead by clearly embarking on major circular economy agendas. The motivations can vary, from creating a more competitive economy or meeting the needs of a growing population, to complying with emissions targets and better social outcomes. The move from an economy based on extraction and consumption to one of regeneration and restoration has become an increasing priority for policymakers around the world.

As Head of Public Affairs at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, Joss Blériot has watched this unfold since 2012, when the Foundation was invited to sit on the EU Commission’s Resource Efficiency Platform. We spoke with Joss to understand the policy landscape across Europe and beyond, what’s motivating different nations to create circular economy plans, and when the topic might eventually become an attractive proposition beyond business circles — a model for thriving societies, and something citizens could be compelled to vote for. …


Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Leighann Renee on Unsplash

What is the goal of economics? Does GDP really tell us all we need to know about a country’s wealth and well-being? Our guest in this show argues that our economic system should be designed to meet everyone’s needs, while living within the means of the planet.

Kate Raworth is the author of the acclaimed book ‘Doughnut Economics’. In this episode of the Circulate Podcast, we speak with Kate to explore a new 21st century economic model, and why she believes so many economists have got it wrong for so long.

Recorded at DIF 2017. Find out more: https://www.thinkdif.co/


From packaging made out of organic waste to nano-engineering, the winners of the $2 million New Plastics Economy Innovation Prize provide real answers to the plastic problem

Image for post
Image for post

There’s no love lost for plastic packaging. Whether it’s complicated recycling instructions on the products we buy, startling images of the impacts on wildlife, or simply the economic value lost through waste, plastics have been climbing the international agenda for years. So how do 8 million tonnes of plastic still end up in the ocean each year?

Searching for the right solutions

The urgency of the issue has led to brands, governments, NGOs and celebrities promoting a host of solutions. Reusable packaging is part of the answer, and shopping bags, water bottles and coffee cups are have become popular purchases for those trying to do their bit. This works to replace certain types of packaging, but think about all the other different pieces of plastic we come into contact with every single day. Plastic film can keep food fresher for longer, and wrappers ensure medical equipment is safe for patients. …

About

Joe Iles

Editor in Chief @circulatenews / http://circulatenews.org. Beer, music and bad film lover.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store