Much of the work and focus in the circular economy is based around disrupting standard linear economy business models of “take-make-waste” to ones where higher proportions of resources can be recycled with minimal disposal. Circular economy models to secure value from waste, and prioritise regenerative resources, will extend the life of finite resources. Otherwise, in a world where success is largely measured by profits, most company directors are tied to legal requirements to maximise shareholder value. Stock markets reward relentless growth, and everyone chasing growth in a race that will exhaust those finite resources is not sustainable. How hard will it be to make the switch?
Transitioning from a linear to a circular economy
It’s not that circular economy practices are not or cannot be profitable. But where it makes a difference is how ‘value’ is recognised and measured, what it represents to different stakeholders, when it is measured, and how it is distributed. So there is a lot to consider about the extent of the inroads that circular economy techniques and practices can achieve. It’s definitely up against the vested interests of major corporations and their stakeholders to maintain the status quo. 80% of shareholders in the global energy company BP recently voted against adopting tougher measures to tackle climate change.
So far, these words reflect wider sentiment that sets a boundary around the circular economy and restricts it to activities that deplete raw materials to manufacture goods or provide services, whether as an input to products or for energy to fuel the processes. Finding alternatives to slow down the use of resources such as fossil fuels and minerals also has a valuable impact on the climate change crisis, and engages the public at both head and heart touchpoints.