We are pleased to feature a guest interview with our wonderful Circular Economy partners in the UK, Catherine Weetman, from ReThink Global & award winning author
Catherine has just launched a new edition of her book “A Circular Economy Handbook: How to Build a More Resilient, Competitive and Sustainable Business”, and we have the opportunity of talking about the book, how she sees the current situation with the pandemic and how the circular economy could be a solution for many of the challenges we are facing.
LUP: Hi Catherine, thanks for your time once again, it´s always a pleasure to talk to you and reflect on the transition towards a circular economy, especially now after almost one year living with a pandemic. What is your first analysis of this: are we as society closer to what we are looking for? Is the pandemic contributing to a shift or what´s the real impact?
Catherine: Hi Noreen, it’s great to catch up, and good to see that you and the LUP Global team are getting the circular message out, helping businesses work towards circular approaches to get them through to the other side of the pandemic with a more resilient and cost-efficient approach to asset management. I sense that despite its awful effect on humanity – the loss of loved ones, impact on our communities and social networks, effect on our economies, businesses and jobs – the pandemic has opened up a whole range of possibilities. Many of us have made big changes to our daily lives: we’re more in touch with nature and the great outdoors and realising what really matters. For many of us, that’s healthy, seasonal food, meaningful conversations and being true to our values.
People have found purpose and meaning – perhaps by volunteering to help their community, by raising funds for charity or local causes, donating to food banks and so on. We’ve realised that plenty of our old habits were pointless. We’d been sucked into the ‘waste economy’ through fast fashion, fast food, the latest ‘must-have’ watch/shoes/ technology etc. Instead, we’ve developed passions for baking, arts and crafts, learnt a new skill or become a newbie/improving gardener.
For businesses and policymakers the pandemic was a sharp jolt, reminding us about the vulnerabilities of long-distance, cost-focused, opaque, just-in-time supply chains, in which one disruption could mean the entire downstream flow grinds to a halt. In my blog back in February 2020: Worried about supply-chain disruption? Why circular economy approaches are more resilient, I highlighted these risks, suggesting ways to use circular approaches to mitigate or avoid them.
The subsequent impact of lockdown means the closure or slowdown of arts, entertainment, sports and foodservice sectors. This, combined with the different ways we are living and working, mean many businesses have had to pivot, or even reinvent themselves to survive. As we move into 2021, I’m noticing an increasing interest in circular approaches, with more businesses talking about their projects and pilot schemes, and more people contacting me about the Circular Economy Podcast.
LUP: Now more focused on your book, can you tell us more about the updates in this new edition? What are the main changes and trends you see, and which industries are leading them (compared to the first edition of the book in 2016)?
Catherine: I hadn’t envisaged how big a project the new edition would be, turning out to have lots of updates and additions. The circular economy has moved on in leaps and bounds since 2016! Then, the book was `furloughed´ last summer as the publishing industry went into lockdown, but finally went on sale last November through Kogan Page and all good booksellers. With over 300 real examples from around the world, it´s described by one of the reviewers as a `must-read for businesses, students and policymakers; and explains the what, why and how of the circular economy. The new edition includes extensive updates, builds on the latest research on circular business models, has a new chapter on packaging and over 100 new examples´.
I have good news for your readers: they can save 20 per cent if they buy the book from Kogan Page (shipping worldwide) by using code CIRCL20 at the checkout. (Click HERE to buy it)
LUP: Ohh that´s great, we appreciate a lot! To sum up, any final idea you want to share with us? Expectations for 2021 and the near future? Thanks so much once again.
Catherine: The changes triggered by the pandemic have encouraged a sense of new beginnings and possibilities, with a realisation that transformational change is easier than we thought. That’s why I’m thinking of this decade as the ‘transformational twenties’ – the decade when we switch our mindset. We’re realising (as many indigenous people have always known) we can create a better world, with enough, for all of us, forever. That feels like an amazing, enriching and exciting vision – for a fair world, with abundance, diversity and honesty, where we care for people and our planet, and regenerate resources, living systems and our communities.
Alongside this, governments and businesses are seeing the importance of access to resources and the value of local supply chains and distributed manufacturing. The upsides of low-cost imports are now less important than developing future-fit economies, investing in clean, green, regenerative sectors. However, I believe we’ll undermine this if we don’t consider and embed the changes needed to deal with the other existing crises – of climate breakdown, biodiversity loss and social inequality. We must focus on the bigger picture and use systems-scale thinking to plan and deliver what we need. It’s critical that we regenerate soil, seas, nature and our communities, and that we design strategies to ensure a just transition.
We need to build the skills for that new world, where we understand how to work with nature instead of to exploit it, where we understand how to circulate resources and slow the flow of consumption and waste, and how to replace fossil inputs with sustainable ones. We can design a vision of a world where we’re regenerating everything we need, where waste and pollution don’t exist: a world with enough, for all of us, for ever.
This quote seems to sum up what we need to do: “To rid yourself of old patterns, focus all your energy not on struggling with the old, but on building the new.” Sometimes, this is attributed to Socrates, but is more likely to be from a fictional Socrates in The Way of the Peaceful Warrior: A Book that Changes Lives by Dan Millman (1984).
For more information or to contact Catherine, refer to: https://www.rethinkglobal.