Innovation and Collaboration needed to Create a Circular Economy

24 January 2019 Kingspan Group
Pieter Snelder, Managing Director Kingspan Insulated Panels, Benelux, gives his view…
The basic principle of the circular economy is that all value present in the economy will never be lost. In a circular economy, all resources in use are kept as long as possible until we extract the maximum value from them, then recover and regenerate materials at the end of each resource’s life.
The world is in a state of environmental crisis and it is increasingly clear the population will run out of natural resources if the present level of resource use is maintained. Industries, including the construction industry, will play a huge role in bridging the resource gap as we come up with alternative solutions and alternative ways of working. With up to 30% of the EU’s waste coming from construction and demolition waste, we need a different approach to the traditional linear pathway.
The Circularity Gap Report 2019 published by Circle Economy at the World Economic Forum reveals that to accomplish circularity companies must utilise the full potential of products - maximising their use, extending product lifetime, increasing recycling, reducing material consumption and using lower-carbon alternatives.
With these key strategies in mind, as an industry, we will need to evolve the current make-up of existing products, find alternative resources and develop new ones to reach our collective goal of a much more sustainable future. This must be at the heart of all product innovation from 100% recyclable or recycled product components, to product manufacture, transport, waste and end-of-life.
The shift to a circular economy will also require innovative business models that either change or replace existing ones or create new opportunities. As companies begin to reinvigorate the systems and processes they operate under, collaboration will be key to success. We can learn from developments and change happening in other sectors of the economy, from the digital revolution of financial services, to the algae and mushrooms that are being trialled for exciting new uses in the bio-technology sector.
The evolution towards a circular economy is undoubtedly necessary. According to the Circularity Gap Report 2019, the Global economy is currently only 9% circular. The global use of materials has more than tripled since 1970, without action this could double again by 2050. Given that the built environment accounts for a fifth of global emissions, building practices need to minimise the use of raw materials. To halt this acceleration there is a strong call on governments to implement policies and set meaningful targets.
In essence the world is already circular and as citizens of the planet we impact the environment and as a society we experience the connection to the earth through changing climate events. The model of a circular economy takes this core principle of connection and collaboration and transfers it into the world of consumption and production.

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