The top 5 questions to address when implementing circular economy business strategies

The circular economy is quickly permeating throughout our global economies. Beyond end-of-life solutions, the sharing economy is demonstrating the power of tapping into wasted resources to create value, and new 'product-as-a-service' business models are demonstrating the power of new consumer demands from automobiles to washing machines.

Front-running companies are already pursuing circular strategies and successfully developing new, circular markets. This includes startups such as ACTronics, which remanufactures automotive electronic equipment, Black Bear Carbon, which harvests carbon black from old tyres, and CRS Holland, which recovers and recycles marine cables. Multinationals, such as Philips and DSM, are also demonstrating that a pivot to circularity is not only possible, but offers a real competitive edge. It is becoming more and more apparent that in order to remain competitive in the global market and create a future-proof business, circular economy business strategies must be adopted. If you’re interested in starting your business’ journey to circularity or need help in identifying the next steps you can take in creating a more circular business start by addressing the 5 questions below.

1. What is your current understanding of the circular economy and the extent to which you wish to engage in it?

Envision your company within the circular economy. Where are your strengths, opportunities, weaknesses and threats? Evaluate your business’ various divisions and portfolios to understand how circular they already are and identify improvement areas. Is there more that you can do other than simply manage your waste or the amount of renewable energy that you consume?

2. Who within your business, partner network and external stakeholder community should play a role in defining, engaging and implementing your circular strategies?

Engaging and collaborating with a trusted and enthusiastic network of partners, external stakeholders and employees is key to the successful implementation of circular strategies. Energise your staff to gain alignment toward a common purpose and define how each of these groups can play a role in the implementation process.

3. Where within your business processes can you take the first step in implementing circularity?

Map your business' activities, processes and position in your value chain. Where do your resources come from? How and where  is value being created or destroyed across your business? How much waste are you producing? Identify promising areas throughout your chain that provide areas for improvement and opportunities for innovation.

4. How much value will be created if circular strategies are implemented?

Analyse the financial returns of different circular scenarios and understand how they compare to business-as-usual. How can you innovate with new business models? What opportunities do these present to future-proof and improve your resilience to change? What are the risks and tradeoffs of such strategies? Rank them by the amount of value they create and decide on a pathway forward.

5. When and where can you implement pilot projects to test these circular strategies?

Create an action plan that guides you towards the implementation of practical, on-the-ground circular strategies. Communicate your learnings throughout the piloting process to both your internal and external stakeholders to give them a clear understanding of the progress that is being made and the expected plans for scaling up the pilots in the future.

Still not sure how to address the questions above?

Circle Economy’s consulting services can help.
Founded in 2012 to promote the practical and scalable implementation of the circular economy, we have witnessed growing interest in the topic and its tremendous potential to create sustainable value. However, our experience has shown us that many businesses are unsure of where to start when adopting circular strategies.

We have worked with a wide range of businesses, cities and organisations to find and implement actionable solutions. Along this journey we have established dedicated programmes for textiles, cities and finance, pioneered work in many sectors such as mobility, agrifood and construction and worked on game-changing topics including climate change and employment. Thanks to our work with front-running companies we have also gained an understanding of best-practices and developed high-impact tools and services.

The knowledge and expertise we have acquired from our extensive partner network and tried and tested project processes allows us to take a flexible and modular approach to our consulting projects. Our tools and services can be combined in a multitude of ways to meet your specific needs.

Check out our tailor-made consulting solutions to ignite your journey to circularity!

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