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How can we implement the circular economy?

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22 August, 2019
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The circular economy is a new productive paradigm that is based on the idea of minimising the environmental impact. It is a more sustainable and fair economic model, the main principle of which is to reduce the impact that the production and consumption of goods has on the environment.

In previous articles, we have discussed the principles of this model, as well as its advantages when compared with the linear economy. In this article, we will discuss how implement the circular economy, the steps which we will need to take in order to do so, and the factors which must be taken into consideration in order to guarantee its successful implementation.

What steps must you take if you want to implement the circular economy in your company?

Prior analysis

The first step is to analyse the activities that are performed in our production cycle. By doing so, we will be able to find out what material and energy resources we need, how we use them, and the overall cost of these for the company.

Commitment

The circular economy model is a new paradigm. In order to adopt this model, all of the members of the organisation must be committed to doing so. The impact that our activity has on the environment forms part of our social responsibility. It is likely that we will have to invest in communication and training efforts for our team, as some of the members of the organisation are sure to be fearful of, or resistant to this change. 

Planning

Once we have analysed our activity, we can then work out how we can implement the circular economy in our business activity. By correctly analysing this data, we will be able to draw up strategies which will enable us to optimise our resources. Our goal will be to design production loops that make use of the same processes for different products or product parts. 

Establish relationships with partners

Look for business partners who have already implemented a circular model, or who would be interested in adopting one. Joining forces may help you in the implementation and development phases, and likewise it will help to strengthen the business ecosystem which is connected to this model. 

Implementation

We would recommend carrying out the transformation from a linear to a circular economy in phases or on a moderate scale. At a later date you will be able to extend it to the rest of the activities. In this way you will be able to prevent potential errors when adapting it to a larger scale. You will have the chance to detect room for improvement and other specific opportunities for the company. 

Control 

Make sure to keep track of the implementation process, controlling how the changes are coming on, and implementing the necessary corrective measures in the case in which any shortcomings are detected. It is important to firstly determine the indicators which you are going to measure, and likewise the person who is going to be charge of this process and who will report to the management team must be appointed.

Communication

Once you have implemented the circular economy model this should be announced. Let your clients know exactly how you work, as well as the steps your company are planning to take to further advance with the circular economy. Informing your clients of your company’s sustainability-related values could have a very positive impact on your brand and the value that the users place on it.  

Your case will also serve as an inspiration for other companies in the sector. The market tends to adopt and reproduce the trends that are most successful amongst the public. In fact, the circular economy could be understood as a kind of a challenge for your company. Demonstrate that you have what it takes to successfully implement this model, and in doing so you will be contributing to more environmentally friendly trends. 

An example of a circular economy in the textile sector

The textile sector is one of the 5 areas in which C-VoUCHER targets its efforts. In this field, Imse-Vimse is one of the companies which has been accelerated thanks to this initiative and it is a perfect example of a circular economy. The company was founded and directed by Marie Wallenberg, a mother who came up with this idea when looking for a solution for the irritation that her baby suffered from when using traditional nappies. She now offers not only reusable fabric nappies, but also tampons, cleansing pads and other personal hygiene elements for women and children. The company helps to eliminate the constant production of waste associated with these products, and likewise households can make savings by purchasing these products.

C-VoUCHER is the first pan-European initiative that will distribute €4.2 million through 4 open calls for innovative SMEs adopting the concept of Circular Economy, in order to reshape and redesign linear value chains into the circular ones.

This EU funded project combines design thinking methodologies and advanced technologies to support SMEs to create new sustainable business and implement the circular economy models during several acceleration programs.

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