Brighton Chamber: The circular economy

Peter Desmond
Peter Desmond

How can we make more of scarce resources, reduce waste and move away from our current linear economy of ‘take-make-use-dispose’?

The circular economy may be the answer.

Benefits for businesses include reduced expenditure, increased customer loyalty and lower environmental costs. If you are already involved in activities such as recycling, repairing, reusing or redesigning, you are part of the circular economy.

A recent mapping exercise revealed 150 circular initiatives operating in the city. These approaches enhance resilience, reduce risk, increase productivity, improve competitiveness and provide environmental and societal benefits.

To get started on a circular journey you might like to consider these six P’s:

Products: By designing products for reuse and disassembly, businesses can create new markets. Products can be redesigned to make them more durable and repairable Circular business models also provide opportunities for firms to charge customers for product based on how much they use it rather than now much it costs to own it.

Processes into new business models: The Circular Economy works best when systems thinking is used to change processes. For example, virgin materials are replaced with recycled or renewable resources and any waste sold as a by-product. Brighton restaurant Silo reduces its environmental impact through preserving nutrients,cutting out food miles and achieving zero waste.

Policies can be influenced: Local and national government are able to encourage more circular activity. Businesses and consumers are involved in campaigning for more sustainable policies to encourage recycling, reusing and renewable energy. The Plastic Free Pledge helped Brighton and Hove City Council introduce two motions to reduce single-use plastic.

Peer-to-peer sharing: There are a number of reports available by the Ellen McArthur Foundation that help develop a business case for decision-makers to understand the benefits of the circular economy. Local businesses are connecting with each other to generate a sharing economy of tool libraries, community reuse initiatives, resource and equipment exchanges, and local repair shops.

Practice: Practice to help you get started. Comparing costs to the benefits of new sources of revenue and enhanced reputation is good business practice. Other places to start are recycling resources and recovering components at the end of product use.

Packaging: New, more natural materials for packaging are now available which results in less plastic being sent to landfill. Packaging of perishable products doesn’t have to be plastic. Charlotte’s Cupboard is a local retailer which sells bulk produce in customers’ own reusable containers.

Peter Desmond, local organiser of the Brighton and Hove Circular Economy Club is leading a Bite-Size Learning session: Circular Economy for Brighton Chamber on April 26. For more information on the event, visit: {http://www.businessinbrighton.org.uk|www.businessinbrighton.org.uk