According to the Circularity Gap Report
, our world economy is only 9% circular, meaning only 9% of the world’s resources are cycled back into the economy after use, resulting in an immense ‘Circularity Gap’. In order to bridge the gap, we need to create a circular economy, defined as an industrial system that is restorative or regenerative by intention and designed to limit the amount of extracted resources. The circular economy is positioned as an essential tool needed to create a paradigm shift in the global economy. This shift can reduce waste, drive resource productivity and help reduce the environmental impacts of our consumption.
Kingspan had the pleasure of attending the inaugural Circularity 19 event with many of the world’s thought leaders and practitioners tackling pressing challenges in sustainable business.
A notable takeaway for me was the theme of avoiding the word “sustainability” and talking instead about the word “economy”. Ellen MacArthur Foundation CEO Andrew Morlet described how his company avoids the S-word and said, “It’s about creating wealth versus extracting wealth.” How do we make a more circular economy – not just a sustainable environment? We have to holistically change the cycle as circularity goes beyond environmental benefits and talking about the economy opens up more conversations.
Plastic waste was a large topic of conversation at Circularity 19. The average person is wondering how they can reduce their single-use plastic and get plastic out of our oceans. Plastic packaging accounts for nearly 50 percent of plastic waste globally. This is why Kingspan partnered
with the Ecoalf Foundation to turn ocean plastic into building material.
It was a pleasure to see so many large companies talking about their commitments to circularity. I was personally inspired by Sarah Chandler, senior director of operations and environmental initiatives at Apple, who shared Apple’s bold vision to make 100% of its products from only recycled or renewable sources. At this time, Apple has barriers for this to be possible, but regardless it set the goal post and the vision.
Kate Brandt, sustainability officer at Google, discussed the company’s goal to maximize the reuse of finite resources across its operation, products and supply chains by looking at waste as a data problem. These bold goals are what will put us on the path to a circular economy.
We’re changing capitalism for a positive future and are focusing on making but not taking
from the planet. On this path to a circular economy, reconsiderations need to be made. For example, we need discussions on how we build materials. What the world needs now is planet passion, and this passion must set us up for a successful future in the circular economy.