As a guest member of the World Economic Forum Circular Economy Taskforce, EMG Founder, Daan Elffers, attended an inspiring and informative session with circular economy pioneer, Walter R. Stahel.
EMG has long been engaged in Walter Stahel’s interpretation of the of the circular economy; an opportunity to change where waste managers become resource managers, where goods are given extended periods of use and where the lever to move the circular economy forward is sustainable taxation, to name a few themes. See our previous interview with Walter Stahel.
Circular Economy Taskforce – highlights
Objects with value guaranteed: Consideration of bank notes, objects which are used and received again and again. Regardless of age, their value is guaranteed. This idea, an object which, whether first- or second- hand, is as valuable each time, neatly conveys how we need to re-design and re-consider everyday items.
Loop economy: The loop economy relates to reusing and repairing, as well as business models of sale and take-back.
Lake economy: The lake economy relates more to stewardship of objects and materials once in use, value preservation and kept ownership being key factors (with the Patek Philippe advertising slogan, “You never actually own a Patek Philippe. You merely look after it for the next generation.” An example of ‘product stewardship’ messages, mixed into an advertising campaign.)
Performance economy: The performance economy removes ‘ownership’ of products from the concept, rather goods are sold as a service, maintained by the provider and owned by the provider. The Performance Economy’s objective is to decouple wealth and resource consumption, while creating regional jobs.
Ultimate aim: We are looking at two aims, to increase the wealth created for each kg of ‘material in-use’, while also increasing man-hours/jobs for each kg of ‘material in-use’.
Tipping points: The further, future tipping points are considered by Walter to be the scarcity of resources and scarcity of landfill and, the more imminent tipping points are considered to relate to the ethical issues surrounding the mining industry. As governance becomes ‘stricter’, extraction may become less ‘appealing’. Walter also noted that a one-off catastrophe could occur at any time, meaning to reduce risk of infliction, companies should be prepared already.
Sustainable taxation: “tax only that which you want to reduce”. Considered as a means to boost resource security and jobs. By reorganising taxed entities and not taxing renewable resources (including human labour), not charging VAT on value preservation (caring) activities and giving carbon credits for the prevention of GHG emissions.
Act now? In our industrialised world, there is already a lot of ‘stock’ available in the system, now is the time to implement to prepare for any future tipping points and assure sustainability into the future.
The vision of the Circular Economy Taskforce is to “create a socially and environmentally prosperous world where profitable businesses provide smart goods and services within the resource limits of the planet. This debate formed the ‘beginnings’ of their mission, to inspire leaders to embrace the circular economy business philosophy for their organizations and to provide tangible examples of successful business models and means of implementation.
The Circular Economy Taskforce session was led by the Forum of Young Global Leaders Taskforce Co-chair, Ida Auken, the former Minister for the Environment of Denmark, who is also an advisory Board Member of EMG.