The world is facing an unprecedented environmental crisis, so the need for bold and transformative action has never been greater. Global warming, resource depletion, pollution, and the disastrous effects of climate change threaten the planet’s future, and small, incremental solutions no longer suffice. It is time to move beyond incrementalism and embrace systemic change, cross-sector partnership, and cutting-edge innovation to transition to a just and regenerative future.
At Pyxera Global, we recognize the imperative nature of transitioning to a circular economy to address pressing environmental and social issues. As a global organization at the forefront of sustainable solutions, we believe collaboration is essential for accelerating the transition to a circular economy on both a company and a community level. Our Equitable Circular Economy service unites businesses, governments, NGOs, and communities to design and implement innovative, sustainable, and socially equitable circular economy solutions. By drawing on the expertise of diverse stakeholders, we guide organizations and cities in developing innovative business models, advancing policy reform, and creating systemic change, all while keeping the planetary boundaries in mind.
The Need for Audacious and Innovative Solutions
Tackling climate change is a massive global endeavor that cannot be resolved through business as usual. The UN’s ‘Decade of Action’ emphasizes the magnitude and breadth of the issue while placing sustainability at the center of the efforts to save our planet. There is a need for more widespread knowledge of the problems we are facing as humanity. With that is the urgent need for transformational change. Although progress has been made in recent years, it is not happening nearly fast enough. The limitations of incremental change and the option to keep pushing this burden on future generations are becoming increasingly apparent as it fails to deliver the required systemic transformation.
According to the IPCC, in 2020, 30 million people were displaced due to storms, floods, wildfires, and droughts, and almost half of humanity now lives in high-risk areas. Currently, global warming stands at 1.2 degrees Celsius. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has recently stated that our worldwide goal of keeping warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius “is on life support,” and even 2 degrees Celsius may be unattainable. While many are privileged that they are not currently facing the effects of climate change, there is a not-so-distant future in which each and every one of us will. We must implement drastic changes and do so now before it’s too late.
The urgency for a more transformative approach has never been greater, and this necessitates championing systemic change, cross-sector collaboration, and innovation to drive the transition to a truly sustainable and circular economy.
The Circular Economy: A Pathway to a Sustainable Future
The circular economy is a concept that promotes a restorative and regenerative economy where waste is minimized, resources are used efficiently, and natural systems are restored. It starkly contrasts the traditional linear economy model of “take, make, waste” that has dominated the world for centuries.
The path to a green economy will not be simple, but well-orchestrated and equitable systemic change will provide numerous opportunities for improvement. The International Labour Organization predicts adopting the right policies could create 24 million jobs by 2030. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation projects that embracing a circular economy could yield $4.5 trillion in economic benefits by 2030 while simultaneously tackling challenges like climate change, resource depletion, and pollution.
We must act now to benefit from the economic benefits and job creation boom by 2030. By fostering innovation, collaboration, and the adoption of novel business models and technologies, we can unlock the full potential of the circular economy to address our most pressing environmental challenges and promote sustainable development.
Innovative Business Models and Technologies: Spearheading Systemic Change in the Circular Economy
To fully embrace the circular economy, businesses must adopt innovative business models and technologies prioritizing quality and longevity, ensuring that products can be used efficiently and sustainably throughout their lifetimes. Here are some examples of innovative business models and technologies that are spearheading systemic change in the circular economy:
- Product-as-a-service models: Philips has pioneered the Lighting-as-a-Service model, which has reduced resource and energy consumption by 30% compared to traditional ownership models. By transitioning from a linear economy model of “take, make, waste” to a circular model, companies can create products designed for durability, repairability, and upgradeability. This approach incentivizes businesses to prioritize quality and longevity, ensuring that products can be used efficiently and sustainably throughout their lifetimes.
- Circular supply chains: Patagonia’s Worn Wear program, which has recycled over 135,000 pounds of clothing since 2013, exemplifies the potential of circular supply chains to minimize dependency on virgin resources. By incorporating recycled materials into the production of new products, companies can reduce their environmental footprint and contribute to a more sustainable, circular economy. Additionally, engaging in circular supply chains allows businesses to identify new opportunities for collaboration, innovation, and value creation within their industries.
- Waste-to-resource technologies: Bioelektra Group’s groundbreaking waste-to-resource technologies can divert up to 90% of waste from landfills, transforming waste management systems and creating new opportunities for resource recovery and reuse. By investing in cutting-edge technologies that convert waste materials into valuable resources such as energy, raw materials, or even consumer products, companies can create closed-loop systems that minimize waste and promote efficient use of resources.
- Digital platforms for resource sharing: Sharetribe has successfully facilitated the sharing of over 1 million underutilized assets, promoting the efficient use of materials and fostering a culture of reuse and collaboration. As digital technologies advance, new opportunities for sharing and exchanging resources will emerge, allowing individuals and businesses to optimize resource use and minimize waste. By leveraging the power of digital platforms, companies can support a more access-based economy that emphasizes the sharing, renting, or leasing goods and services rather than the traditional model of individual ownership.
- Design for disassembly and remanufacturing: Innovative companies increasingly embrace design principles that facilitate disassembly and remanufacturing, allowing for more efficient recycling, repurposing, and reuse of materials. For instance, the modular design of Fairphone smartphones enables easy repair, replacement, and upgrading of individual components, significantly reducing electronic waste and extending the product’s lifespan. By adopting design for disassembly and remanufacturing principles, businesses can create products that align with circular economy goals and minimize environmental impact.
The Role of Collaboration in Driving Systemic Change
The transition to a circular economy is not an easy one, but it is a necessary one. We must move beyond incrementalism and embrace bold and transformative action to address our planet’s pressing environmental issues. We must champion systemic change, cross-sector collaboration, and innovation to drive the transition to a truly sustainable and circular economy.
Collaboration is critical in solving complex problems because it brings together diverse perspectives, resources, and expertise. As we know, systems change cannot be done in a vacuum and requires the involvement of multiple stakeholders, including individuals, organizations, and institutions, to create lasting change. By bringing together a pool of resources or expertise, we can begin to tackle the large issues we will all soon face.
Together, let us redefine how we design, produce, and consume, shaping a more resilient, regenerative, and inclusive world. The future of our planet depends on the collective effort of businesses, governments, and communities to champion the circular economy and drive transformative change. Join us in creating a sustainable and equitable future for all.