In 2013, the Young Global Leaders (YGL) Circular Economy Taskforce from the World Economic Forum came together to build universal awareness amongst business leaders that the circular economyrepresents a wealth of business opportunities which can reduce costs, increase profits and future proof businesses in a world of depleting finite resources.
In 2015, the Taskforce launched the The Circulars award program. In the two years The Circulars has been running, the program has attracted over 400 entrants, from 36 countries. This year, the Winner of each category was honoured at the prestigious awards ceremony held at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos in January 2017. Meet The Circulars 2017:
William McDonough, Chief Executive of McDonough Innovation.
William McDonough advises leaders worldwide through McDonough Innovation; and is active with William McDonough + Partners, architects; as well as MBDC, a Cradle to Cradle® consulting firm.
In 1995, McDonough and the chemists at MBDC worked with DesignTex to create the world’s first biological nutrient fabric. Climatex LifeCycle uses only rapidly renewable, natural materials and non-toxic dyes. Water leaves the factory as clean or cleaner than the potable water coming in. Production costs were lowered, waste disposal costs drastically reduced, and community relations improved. Shaw Contract Group also engaged McDonough and the MBDC team to design the world’s first PVC-free technical nutrient carpet tile to be endlessly recycled and reused as a product of service. Today, over 60% of the company’s sales come from Cradle to Cradle Certified™ products and Shaw reclaims 100 million pounds of carpet annually. These projects laid the foundation for the 2002 book co-authored by McDonough, Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, which introduced the concepts of biological and technical cycles and provides a coherent framework for restorative and regenerative systems.
Nike, one of the world’s largest suppliers of athletic shoes and apparel, has announced an ambitious goal – to double its business with half the impact – and through adopting the principles of the circular economy at the centre of this strategy.
Nike have identified the essential global requirement for product and business model innovation, including the transition from linear to circular models and to a world that demands closed-loop products, designed with better materials, made with fewer resources and assembled to allow reuse. Nike are already on their journey. Today 71% of all Nike footwear and apparel incorporates recycled materials, and their designers use 29 high-performance materials made from factory scrap. They are implementing and scaling new design and manufacturing processes, with materials reclaimed throughout production and at the end of a product’s life. In doing so, Nike are reimagining waste streams as value streams, and are supporting the development of low-impact, regenerative materials.
Patagonia, an outdoor apparel company based in Ventura, California, has the principles of the circular economy embedded into its business strategy. A certified B-Corporation, Patagonia’s mission is to build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm and use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.
Patagonia feels a responsibility to make higher quality products to help customers reclaim the act of ownership, make parts accessible and repair easy, as well as to celebrate the effort of trying to fix something. By ensuring the usable life of its products are extended, Patagonia can reduce related carbon, waste and water footprints by up to 20-30 percent per person (WRAP, 2012) simply because we’re making and throwing away less. To enable this, Patagonia has driven the collection of garments from customers since 2005 and so far has diverted about 150,000 pounds / 82 tons of gear from landfill in the USA. While Patagonia employs over 60 repair technicians at their service center in Reno, Nevada, the largest outdoor gear repair facility in North America, and completes about 45,000 repairs per year. (FY16) Their ‘Worn Wear’ campaign has also led to huge consumer participation and last year (FY16) over 35,000 people came to Worn Wear tour stops in the US and Europe (combined).
MBA Polymers, Inc.
MBA Polymers has found a solution to up-cycling complex plastic waste streams to a high quality for re-use and re-purposing. Plastics are perhaps the last major frontier of recycling. Most of the 280 million tons of plastics produced annually end up in incinerators, landfills or waterways. This is both a wasted valuable resource and a source of land, air and water pollution. Billions of pounds enter our oceans every year killing or disrupting marine life at alarming rates. The low recycling rate for these valuable materials is because they are extremely difficult to separate and “up-cycle”.
Founded in 1992, MBA Polymers not only developed breakthrough technology, it turned an “above ground mining” business model into the world’s leading company mining plastics and other materials from large complex waste streams with about 140 million kg/year of processing capacity. MBA operates the most sophisticated plastics recycling plants on the planet and some of the largest manufacturers in the world use MBA plastics to replace virgin plastics 1:1 in their products, saving enormous amounts of CO2, energy and devastating pollution.
Scottish Government was the first national Government to join the Ellen MacArthur Foundation CE100 network and works directly with EU institutions, and influences UK ambition in EU circular economy negotiations. Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has placed the circular economy at the core of “Scotland’s Economic Strategy” and Manufacturing Action Plan.
The government’s ambitious circular economy strategy “Making Things Last” identifies 4 priority areas with the greatest opportunity to deliver economic, environmental and social benefits: Reducing food waste and growing the bio-economy, including in the lucrative whisky and salmon industries; Driving the reuse of energy infrastructure in the renewable and oil and gas sectors; Reducing waste and taking a more circular approach to the use of resources in construction and buildings; Supporting Scotland’s well established remanufacturing sector to grow further. Early achievements include: £180m of business savings from its Resource Efficient Scotland service; a flourishing collaboration between business and academia through the Scottish Institute for Remanufacture; 34 projects in the assessment pipeline for our new £18m Circular Economy Investment Fund; and two large-scale re-use and repair hubs in the Highlands and in Edinburgh.
SJF Ventures is an American venture capital partnership founded in 1999 with offices in Durham, New York and San Francisco. The fund invests in high-growth companies creating a healthier, smarter and cleaner future. Its primary impact focus is on identifying and scaling the positive environmental and social impacts achieved through portfolio companies’ core circular economy businesses.
In addition, SJF works to broaden impacts delivered through new positive company practices, policy initiatives, and thought leadership. SJF primarily focuses on companies with innovative social and environmental solutions embedded within their business models. The firm looks for circular economy business models in its six target sectors that can simultaneously scale impact and financial results. SJF looks for early evidence that target social and environmental results are being achieved by prospective investees before providing capital and expertise to accelerate growth. To date SJF has invested in 52 circular economy businesses and has a total of over $250 million in assets managed. The firm is now closing a $125 million fourth fund to further its work and impact.
Founded in 2008, the American company Rubicon Global is now the one of the world’s leading provider of sustainable waste and recycling solutions. It is disrupting the US$1 trillion global waste and recycling industry, realigning incentives to divert waste from landfills and promote a more circular economy.
The company offers an alternative to the asset-heavy business model of industry incumbents that profit from frequenting landfills and the make-take-waste culture. Instead, Rubicon built a cloud-based technology and big data platform that connects customers with a network of independent haulers to enable higher diversion rates, creative reuse of waste material, optimized truck routes and the collection, analysis and ability to act upon detailed waste data verified by Trucost. Rubicon provides waste and recycling solutions for approximately 80,000 customer locations across 50 states in the USA and Canada, as well as 18 additional countries.
Continue reading about The Circulars array of Runners Up and Finalists that were selected across the six categories. You can also view the People’s Choice Award Winner and Finalists as well as the 2016 Finalists and 2015 Finalists.
Source: The Circulars