The circular economy cycle is a resilient and restorative system inspired by nature. Within this cycle almost nothing is wasted, the re-use of products becomes standard practice, and sustainability is built into the design of products. The Circular Economy Strategy will boost the EU’s economy and competitiveness with new business opportunities, along with innovative and more efficient ways of producing and consuming (consult press pack for more facts and figures http://bit.ly/1Pw0zxt).
Circular economy thinking helps businesses modernise their practices and business models. Paris-based SME Wiithaa is a forward-looking design studio firm, looking for ways to making the economy sustainable. Brieuc Saffré, Wiithaa co-founder, advises small and multinational businesses on how to put the circular economy principles into practice, avoiding waste at every step of the life cycle. “Today every company, every community, needs new sources of income and the aim of the circular economy is to create them, but to do so whilst reconciling society with nature.” He then gives a concrete example of customised furniture designed for an express courier company.
Walter Stahel, one of the ‘founding fathers’ of the circular economy concept, relates how this concept has been influential in developing the field of sustainability and explains the 'service-life extension of goods’ (reuse, repair, remanufacture and upgrade). Changing our mind-set on ownership, he says, could help develop a more circular economy. “Owning a good makes sense if that good increases in value. So owning a house makes sense. Owning a computer or any disposable goods doesn’t make sense, so therefore you should rent it.”
Marcel Peters and his Dutch company Bundles put this thinking into practice by offering customers the possibility of renting household appliances like washing machines and tumble dryers instead of owning them.“There should be a way to use appliances as a service and to use the materials again to make new appliances, not creating any waste.”
Bundles help customers monitor their consumption of energy and detergents thanks to an app, receiving guidance and feedback in order to be as cost and resource efficient as possible, resulting in washing machines lasting twice as much as those that are bought. Giants in the household appliance sector like Miele are partnering with Bundles’ initiative, delivering the appliances, ensuring maintenance and supporting Bundles with their knowledge of the market. Marcel Peters, CEO of Bundles adds: “What is actually innovative and really new to this economic model is the way that different people and different parties, institutes, collaborate to deliver a whole different experience to the consumer with much less impact on the future of our planet.”
The Commission's new Circular Economy Strategy was launched by the European Commission on 2 December 2015. Walter Stahel welcomes the new policy package and elaborates: “The new Commission has picked up the challenge again. That would really be an opening for a new economy that would be resource-efficient, it would be economically profitable. So basically all the things that we want.”
Further images on the Circular Economy Strategy announcement - Europe by Satellite schedule on 2/12/2015:
- 12:00 – Read-out of the College meeting – announcement of the launch
- 15:20 – EP Plenary session – Decision adopted on the Circular Economy Package - Commission statement
Additional news footage is also available here: http://bit.ly/1IrCvcv
It includes a presentation of the Nearly New Office Facilities (NNOF), a company that reduces the environmental impact of businesses by recycling and upgrading existing office furniture into new contemporary workplaces, as well as a visit to the Red Cross EU Office, which has used NNOF furniture to refurbish their office space. This B-ROLL also offers a one-to-one interview with Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vella, a special briefing with the Commissioner and general images filmed at the European Commission (midday briefing).
Circular Economy… it’s the way forward