CE100 Acceleration Workshop Takeaways

Kingspan is a proud member of the Circular Economy 100 (CE100) Network – a network that provides a space to learn, share knowledge and build new collaborative approaches. One thing I admire about the CE100 is how diverse its members are – companies like 3M, Cisco, Coca-Cola, Ikea, HP, McDonalds, Target, etc. – yet we are all working toward the same goals and each share knowledge to help one other. I was able to witness this firsthand when I attended the CE100 acceleration workshop in Niagra.
These acceleration workshops are opportunities for members to learn from experts, build new relationships and progress collective approaches. And though the diversity of our industries and backgrounds may make us disconnected on the surface, workshops like these bring us together to support the circular economy.
Moving beyond take-make-waste
One theme discussed was moving beyond the take-make-waste model that is currently present in the linear economy. One of the bases of the circular economy is actually taking this “waste” and turning it into a resource. In a circular economy, economic activity builds and rebuilds overall system health, providing environmental and societal benefits.
Life cycle of raw materials
For Kingspan, one problem we’re looking to solve in relation to the circular economy is the use of raw materials. Some materials and products lose their functionality after being used and end up as waste, which is why we focus on extending the life cycle of our products. Kingspan insulated metal panels last as long as the service life of a typical commercial building.
This is also why we focus on recycled materials – Kingspan has committed to using 1 billion recycled PET plastic bottles in our insulation products by 2025. While we’re happy to do our part in cleaning up the oceans and reusing materials; in a circular economy, we would never have this issue. The key is getting systems in place that will allow all nations to properly recycle and reuse materials.
Recycling and closing the loop
While I had a solid understanding of recycling before this CE100 workshop, I walked away with a new appreciation about the process. Did you know only about 10 percent of what you place in that blue bin at your home via municipal is successfully recycled?
In our recycling discussions, there was a focus on chemical recycling and mechanical recycling. Mechanical recycling is the most used method to give products new usages without changing chemical structure – in this process, plastics are mechanically transformed into new materials, for example new packages, garbage bags, floors, etc. Chemical recycling brings the chemical structure of a product back to its building blocks so it can be used as a raw material and included back at the front of a supply chain, reducing the need for virgin materials. This form of recycling is relatively new but has potential to help close the loop on plastics supply chains, making a significate impact.
We can’t continue to mass produce and consume products. We must take action to move from a linear take-make-waste economy to a circular economy, a crucial step in moving toward global climate goals. I encourage everyone to investigate steps they can take to eliminate product waste whether at the individual, company or national level.