the economy of the future is circular

The way the world’s economy currently operates isn’t sustainable. It’s a blunt but undeniable statement.

This is because the predominant model on which the economy functions is linear – we take resources from the ground, we make things, and when we are finished using them (sometimes only once) we throw them away. The system operates as if we live on a planet with unlimited resources, which we don’t.

The circular economy recognises we have limited resources and takes a far more sustainable approach. Instead of being lost to landfill, resources are maximised by being kept in use for a long as possible before being reused, re-manufactured or recycled.

“Waste is a man-made concept. In nature there is no such thing. Everything has a use at the end of its life, and everything becomes a resource for something else.”

3R Group Chief Executive, Adele Rose

economic

benefits

With its focus firmly on maximising resources and ensuring nothing is wasted, the circular economy represents potentially huge economic as well as environmental benefits. It fosters innovation and greater efficiency all the way through the life cycle of a product.

In New Zealand, a recent report stated Auckland could be $8.8 billion better off in 2030, if it installed the circular economy. Globally, this swells to more than $1 trillion in material savings a year by 2025 according to a report by McKinsey & Co.

economic

benefits

With its focus firmly on maximising resources and ensuring nothing is wasted, the circular economy represents potentially huge economic as well as environmental benefits. It fosters innovation and greater efficiency all the way through the life cycle of a product.

In New Zealand, a recent report stated Auckland could be $8.8 billion better off in 2030, if it installed the circular economy. Globally, this swells to more than $1 trillion in material savings a year by 2025 according to a report by McKinsey & Co.

“Today’s economy is massively wasteful. Most of the materials we use, we lose, the things we make are consistently under-utilised, and our efforts to fix it treat the symptoms, not the cause.”

Ellen MacArthur Foundation Chief Executive, Andrew Morlet

design &

innovation

Design is a key part of the transition to a circular economy as it is the first step to making products which last longer, can be repaired or dissembled and recycled.

A greater focus on smart design drives innovation which leads to superior products, with higher value and longer lifespan.

In a circular economy consumers will look at things far differently. Instead of being ‘consumers’ we will become ‘users’ and many producers will become service providers. There are already some examples of this in car and accommodation sharing like Uber and Airbnb, or the Kiwi classic the Plunket Toy Libraries.

However, in a fully circular economy just about every product will become a service, from the ability to wash clothing to having light in your home.

design &

innovation

Design is a key part of the transition to a circular economy as it is the first step to making products which last longer, can be repaired or dissembled and recycled.

A greater focus on smart design drives innovation which leads to superior products, with higher value and longer lifespan.

In a circular economy consumers will look at things far differently. Instead of being ‘consumers’ we will become ‘users’ and many producers will become service providers. There are already some examples of this in car and accommodation sharing like Uber and Airbnb, or the Kiwi classic the Plunket Toy Libraries.

However, in a fully circular economy just about every product will become a service, from the ability to wash clothing to having light in your home.

3R in the circular economy

Product stewardship is the cornerstone of the circular economy.

Where producers take responsibility for their products at end of life they are motivated to design products that can be repaired rather than replaced, that have longer life spans, and to use more recyclable materials – all crucial to moving from the current linear (take, make, dispose) economy, to a circular one.

We work with companies or industry-wide groups to design, deliver and manage product stewardship programmes for the benefit of business, community, the environment and to further the circular economy.

Allowing end-of-life products to re-enter the production cycle is critical to the development of our circular economy. At 3R, we use our expertise to find existing markets for these or collaborate with others to create innovative solutions for recovered materials.

3R in the circular economy

Product stewardship is the cornerstone of the circular economy.

Where producers take responsibility for their products at end of life they are motivated to design products that can be repaired rather than replaced, that have longer life spans, and to use more recyclable materials – all crucial to moving from the current linear (take, make, dispose) economy, to a circular one.

We work with companies or industry-wide groups to design, deliver and manage product stewardship programmes for the benefit of business, community, the environment and to further the circular economy.

Allowing end-of-life products to re-enter the production cycle is critical to the development of our circular economy. At 3R, we use our expertise to find existing markets for these or collaborate with others to create innovative solutions for recovered materials.

here & now

The wave of change is gathering pace in New Zealand.

The Sustainable Business Network (SBN) Awards has had a circular economy category for the last two years with a huge number of entries. In 2018 Ethique took the win.

3R took a leading role as a Foundation Partner when SBN launched the Circular Economy Accelerator in late 2017. It aims to speed up the circular economy by “inspiring, influencing and enabling New Zealand organisations to benefit from this globally emergent way of thinking and working”. 3R aims to help bring that benefit to the regions.

here & now

The wave of change is gathering pace in New Zealand.

The Sustainable Business Network (SBN) Awards has had a circular economy category for the last two years with a huge number of entries. In 2018 Ethique took the win.

3R took a leading role as a Foundation Partner when SBN launched the Circular Economy Accelerator in late 2017. It aims to speed up the circular economy by “inspiring, influencing and enabling New Zealand organisations to benefit from this globally emergent way of thinking and working”. 3R aims to help bring that benefit to the regions.

“The circular economy is the economy of the future, but is emerging right now. The companies that get to grips with it early will form the next wave of global success stories.”

SBN General Manager Projects and Advisory, James Griffin


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