Environmental Leader: The Profitable Shift to a Circular Economy – 11/19/2015

Environmental Leader

November 19, 2015

By Jessica Lyons Hardcastle

A linear economy, where natural resources are extracted from the ground, made into products and then thrown away at the end of their useful life, is becoming increasingly unsustainable — and expensive for businesses.

Commodity prices rose more than 150 percent, between 2002 and 2010, according to the World Economic Forum.

“If we continue with the business-as-usual approach, companies and society will witness a probable surge in price volatility, inflation of key commodities, and an overall decline — and in some cases, depletion — of critical material inputs,” writes the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Jennifer Gerholdt, environmental program director, in a new report.

The solution, according to the report, is the circular economy. In this model, raw materials are extracted and made into products that are designed and manufactured for reuse and remanufacturing or recycling. It conserves natural resources and aims to eliminate waste.

Increase Competitiveness, Boost Sales

Many companies are already implementing a circular economy model and major players, including Google and Dell are partnering with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation on closed-loop initiatives. These firms see the circular economy not only as a way to reduce waste and improve sustainability performance, but also increase competitiveness, new product development and overall sales.

Dell’s closed-loop recycled plastics supply chain, for example, which has seen the company recycle 4.2 million pounds of closed-loop plastics into enclosures for new Dell products. And Tetra Pak is using circular economy principles in sourcing materials at the beginning of a package’s lifecycle, this week making the world’s first fully renewable package available to customers worldwide.

In the US Chamber’s report, produced in partnership with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, The Chamber showcases a series of best practices and for how companies are leveraging the environmental, economic, and social opportunities the circular economy provides — how they are doing it profitably. READ MORE…

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