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The Circular Economy Blueprint

Arjun Thakkar, a member of the Catalyst team at the Sussex Innovation Centre, looks at the circular economy model, and the need to invest in such a model if we are to work towards climate change focused, sustainable practices.

What goes around comes around, according to the old saying. And in the case of the circular economy, that’s certainly true.

The most discussed topics in 2021 included the likes of COP26, net zero carbon, sustainability and climate change. There’s awareness of the issues surrounding climate change and the environment, but something which is not discussed widely is how to adapt our economy in ways that promote sustainability.

The circular economy is one route that could enable us to cope with climate change and help the environment. It's a model of production and consumption, which involves sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing, and recycling existing materials and products for as long as possible. In this way, the life cycle of products is extended (European Parliament, 2021).

The circular economy, which promotes the elimination of waste and the continual safe use of natural resources, offers an alternative that can yield up to $4.5 trillion in economic benefits between now and 2030. Achieving this transition requires unprecedented collaboration given that today, only 8.6% of the world economy is circular. We have a long way to go.

A number of companies are however already making strides within this world of sustainability:

• IKEA is making bold moves to be on top of the game of sustainable business. With already more than 60% of its product range based on renewable materials, the People and Planet Positive strategy, launched in 2018, pledges to have all IKEA products and packaging made from renewable and/or recycled materials by 2030.

• Adidas is another major retailer transitioning into the circular economy. Since 2018 the footwear giant has sold around 50 million pairs of sneakers made with plastic collected from oceans, beaches and coastlines in partnership with Parley for the Oceans.

• With electric vehicles on the rise, Recyclus Group is one company that has made significant progress in creating a circular economy when it comes to battery recycling processes. The company uses a lead-acid battery breaker, a type of chemical processor, to separate the various lead elements, battery acids and plastics for re-use, thus taking advantage of the burgeoning demand for lead-acid batteries through the retrieval, recycling and repurposing of used battery stock.

In the bid to make business more sustainable, it is essential to be aligned with economic strategies outlined at COP26, which could, amongst other benefits, guide business success in the form of increased share price or other long-term benefits. Recyclus, for example, have tried to create a circular economy model that offers a blueprint for governments to engage and hit COP26 objectives.

All in all, with the increased focus on climate change and the need for sustainability, now is the time to invest in a circular economy model. What's one change that could be made to your business within the next 3 months to put you on the path towards greater sustainability?

Provided by: Sussex Innovation Centre (

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