Challenges

My personal journey and thoughts about Circular Economy

What I love most about sustainability is the transformation within: it is a lifestyle, a change of mindset, and it is very important to change yourself before aspiring to change the world. The more aware you get, the more you change your own behavior and the larger impact you may have in people around you, by sharing your story and, who knows, inspire others to also embark on this journey. 

Hence, I believe we can all learn from sharing our paths with sustainability, and specifically circular economy. About mine, I am an enthusiast for responsible consumption, and this behavior was triggered by getting acquainted with the reality that we consume much more than our Earth can regenerate in a year, and getting inspired by studying the topic while doing an MBA.

Blending this personal approach of my own excitement as a consumer, to my skills sharpened during the MBA, I see a great business opportunity in it. At some point, I believe traditional businesses will have an obligation to account for environmental damage that the linear model of production imposes, and their financial results will suffer dramatically. If companies change only when this happens, there is a big risk of not being able to turn the boat fast enough to a profitable operation. Therefore, there is a circular advantage for early innovators who foresee this future.

In terms of figures, the business opportunity is also quantifiable for the economy. It is estimated that, between 2014 and 2030, the economic growth potential brought by a circular economy is $4.5 trillion (Lacy and Rutqvist, 2016). There is a lot of room to improve the use of our resources and now is the best time for it.

As an activist and aspiring entrepreneur, I see three areas for achieving a higher potential:

  • First and foremost, CONSUMER NEEDS TO BE ON BOARD. If we do not promote a shift in mindset and demonstrate how circular solutions can attend consumers´ satisfactorily and support planet´s needs at the same time, any initiative will fail. We need to see this as creating a longer-term relationship with the client, that does not begin with presenting a product and end with the purchase, but actually should begin with a shared purpose of making the planet a better place, and this relationship should not end at all, but fulfill circles of service providing and receiving back products.
  • Second, DIGITAL TECHNOLOGIES should be applied to enable a higher impact and support business scaling. Each technology are applicable in different ways, and to drive the change we should be able to understand the desired impact and leverage those.
  • Finally, BUSINESS MODELS BLEND presents potential to those companies who work in different parts of the supply chain. So circular business that provide product as a service but also produces it, for instance, may benefit from recycling models, life-extension and even other business models described in the book “Waste to Wealth”.

I hope I can, in a near future, work on circular initiatives, as an entrepreneur or supporting the development of emerging and established businesses.

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Maria Chercoles
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  • Thanks for sharing your story! Looking forward to connecting with you and everyone else who has been sharing their knowledge, experiences, perspectives and more at the conference!