Demystifying the circular economy

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As global economies continue to grow, so does the strain on our planet’s ability to absorb pollution and mitigate habitat destruction. Much of our traditional industrial base functions under a linear “take, make, waste” business model, where energy and material waste and/or leaks in the circular loop are mere economic externalities that don’t interfere with the bottom line.

One of the most powerful actions we can take to ensure a sustainable future is to move toward a circular economic model. In nature, achieving ecosystemic equilibrium is the difference between survival and extinction. The Circular Economy seeks to mimic this elegant interdependence, where one species’ waste is another species’ resource, and there is no such thing as garbage.

As the world summit on sustainable mobility, the Movin’On summit promotes circular thinking, action and business on the conference stage and in the working sessions. While circularity is still very much in an early growth stage when it comes to mobility development, evolving technological and commercial opportunities will allow it to be put in place in more advanced and meaningful applications.

 

Searching for sustainable design

Experts such as Carl Backstrand of innovative design firm White Arkitekter and John Rogers of LM industries shared their knowledge and inspiration on the Movin’On Summit stage. White Arkitekter contributes to sustainable lifestyle designs by developing an innovative planning model for environmentally friendly neighbourhoods. Pioneering additive manufacturing company LM industries made headlines in 2014 as the first company to fabricate an entire electric car using large-scale 3D printing. These types of technologies enable micromanufacturing, which can revitalize local economies while augmenting circularity and accelerating the arrival of sustainable mobility on the local and national levels.

 

Building partnerships

Utilizing bio-sourced or recycled materials often requires creating new types of partnerships across ecosystems, transforming supply chains into supply webs, or developing a cross-sector client base. Deloitte’s working session, which brings together veteran sustainability advocate Christophe Durand and several local and international experts, focused on creative ways to seek out and cultivate the unorthodox relationships that exemplify circular economic success.

 

Built to last

The concept of “built to last” has always been a declaration of waste minimization. However, as technologies become more advanced, the quest for long-term durability becomes more complex. How can we avoid the premature obsolescence of a connected vehicle when the digital technologies it depends on evolve so quickly? UNECE’s working session on reconciling resource efficiency and environmental ambitions placed these and other questions front and centre.