The notion today that our planet has infinite resources is as outdated as the 16th century notion that the Earth was flat. Shailendra Singh’s unequivocal statement sets the tone for this episode.
The circular economy is about extracting, producing and consuming less in the first place, although there are still hundreds of millions of people who are not meeting their basic needs, and the more prosperous will have to make the greater sacrifices. We tackle the elephant in the room, recycling. It may make western societies feel better – once they can work out what goes into which bin! However, recycling is a mechanical or chemical process. It uses a significant amount of energy to bring materials back into the system and, as already said this season, the quality degrades as a result, so it is certainly not as circular as its symbol denotes. We need to keep the value of goods for as long as possible, minimise waste, and avoid shifting goods around the world. Circularity is not a choice, says Dr Evi Viza, it’s a necessity for people and the planet. Pandemics are caused, after all, by humanity’s treatment of natural resources.
In the Global South, repairing, re-purposing and upcycling are still widely prevalent. Take the example of saving footwear and tyres from municipal waste and converting them to affordable shoes. Indeed, in countries like India, you find individuals fixing products on every street corner. Formalising this and leveraging technology to match supply and demand could make them more efficient and more secure. More broadly, what and who can enable making the shift from linear to circular – and urgently? Inertia is always the highest at the start of any transition. Finding ways of benefiting business first is often a way of motivating deeper change. Industrial symbiosis has a role here. Corporates, not just governments, can give incentives. Ideas and solutions can – and should – also come from bottom up, says Dr Mariale Moreno. We are witnessing a generational shift, with newer innovators, designers and producers thinking differently. Consumption also changing – young people globally do not necessarily aspire to own a car, regardless of whether it helps the environment, opting rather for the convenience of the sharing economy. The old standards don’t hold any charm, says Shailendra. Finally, educating from childhood through to university and beyond will be important if we are to tip the scales irreversibly.
"It's not just about making money anymore or it shouldn't be. It's about the creating value for the people in the process and for the planet" Dr. Evi Viza
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DR EVI VIZA
Program Leader MSc Quality Management and MSc Project Management, University of West of Scotland
Dr Evi Viza is a Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineer with specialisation on Quality Management and Continuous Improvement. She is a Chartered Quality Professional and a Black Belt Lean Six Sigma practitioner. She is member of the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET) and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA). Dr Viza’s research is centred on applying operations management, quality improvement and lean principles to solve industry problems as well as how they apply to the work of craft groups and in the cottage industry particularly in low resource economies. She has been involved and interdisciplinary research projects with focus on systems approach and sustainability, usually with focus on user centred approaches. Dr Viza is working currently as the Program Leader on the MSc Quality Management and MSc Project Management in the University of the West of Scotland.
DR MARIALE MORENO
Former Senior Lecturer in Circular Economy at the University of Exeter and Circular Economy Consultant at 3drivers
Dr Mariale Moreno is a former Senior Lecturer at the Exeter Centre for Circular Economy, University of Exeter; where she joined in November 2019 after four years at Cranfield University. In 2020 she also become a senior consultant in Circular Economy at 3Drivers in Lisbon, Portugal. Mariale has a background in Industrial Design and has extensive expertise in Circular Economy and Design Thinking executive education, scholarship and research. Mariale has demonstrated the ability to provide excellence in training capabilities through her leadership, supervision and course development. She had led Circular Economy courses, short courses, hackathons as well as developing and delivering online learning and executive workshops. She has led in training capabilities and research activities in collaboration with Royal Mail, DS-Smith, Cisco, The Clearing, Philips, ENSO Tyres, Armadillo Merino, Rolls Royce, Walmart, EDP, and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, amongst others.
Founder & CEO SustainMantra
Shailendra is sustainable development strategist, with keen appreciation of the impact of climate change on business models. He has over three decades of technical & commercial experience in Chemicals, Plastics & Packaging with leading Global MNC’s in Asia- Pacific Region in senior leadership roles. His last role was that of MD & CEO of DIC India Limited a public listed Japanese MNC, based out of Noida, India. He now runs his own company M/s SustainMantra, focusing on Sustainability & Circular Economy & is Managing Partner in M/s Green Easy LLP, consultants to the Built Environment. He has held board positions in Indian Institute of Packaging (IIP), Society of Plastic Engineers- India; All India Printing Inks Manufacturer Association (AIPIMA). He firmly believes that in order to bring about change at scale, the 4C’s are most important, Collaboration | Commitment |Commerce| Communication & it is with this attitude that he is focusing on the MSME segment in India, encouraging them to take the first step on the Sustainability Journey.