Moving towards a circular economy

moving towards a circular economy
Ambition of the company’s leadership will determine how fast this action will be realised

Drs Daan Elffers, EMG Group CEO

General perceived risks of moving towards a circular economy

As we continue to apply a linear industrial model across the planet, materials can only become more scarce, and therefore more expensive. By transitioning their enterprise into a circular model, businesses can separate – or largely remove – their supply chain from this risk, protecting their business from rocketing resource prices in the future. Of course it’s up to the business as to when the best time is to make this transition – depending on the business, this may require upfront investment – but the sooner the transition is made, the sooner the company can start realising those benefits. In time, these benefits will only become greater – and that’s before we even start looking at other benefits such as broader competitive advantages, etc..

Measuring the reduced impact of circular strategies

That depends on the company, and I think it’s important to remember that measurement itself does not make the company’s impacts any more powerful. Action has to come first, and I believe it’s largely down to the ambition of the company’s leadership that will determine how fast this action will be realised. What measurement can provide, of course, as a second step, is a great opportunity for benchmarking progress, giving an organisation valuable insight on how to improve strategy further. So for all businesses, I think it’s critically important to focus on doing what’s effective on a strategic level first, before starting to look at how to make things more efficient on a tactical level, and measuring that efficiency.

Most suitable indicators

The most suitable tool for a business will be the tool that is the most effective for it, helping that business to maximise positive impact – and in my opinion there is not per se a ‘one size fits all’ in this context. What I do think is important in any tool to help a company reach its maximum potential, is that the tool takes a broader look at the company’s impact beyond only the circularity component; for example the types of materials used, energy and water use, and social aspects. By taking a more holistic view, the company can identify and work towards realising an even bigger, greater impact, that can often be easily factored in at no extra cost. It’s all a matter of design.

Realize that not making a decision in this regard is also in fact making a decision, and think about what the impact of this decision will be on your company in the longer term – in five years, ten years or twenty years. Everyone will understand that today there are indeed seemingly more pressing matters than the longer-term future, but that time, too, will come. The enormous opportunity companies have today is to prepare themselves for that future in their own time, and on their own terms, positioning their company not just for survival but for long-term prosperity and success – whether they choose to seize this opportunity or not.

Daan Elffers moderates panel discussion in Jeddah
Daan Elffers (left) moderating the keynote panel discussion during CSR Saudi Arabia


Article: moving towards a circular economy