Close this search box.
Circular economy and business action: trends after the first global forum in Helsinki
Circular Economy and Business Action: Trends after the first global forum in Helsinki

With more than 1,500 attendees from 105 countries, and under the slogan "Future is made today". "Future is made today"kicked off the first World Circular Economy Forum(WCEF2017), which took place from June 5 to 7 in Helsinki, Finland. This great global response was equal to the challenge ahead.

According to United Nations estimates, it is expected that by the year 2050 there will be more than 9 billion people. The aspirational scenario is that all these people will have a good standard of living, within the planetary limits, for which it is imperative to start acting now, closing the flow of materials and resources and increasing efficiency in their use. To start building this future scenario from our present, the circular economy emerges as a new model of regenerative design to obtain the maximum value from resources, products, parts and materials, a fact that is considered key to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and the commitments set out in the Paris Agreement.

To advance in this great challenge, Helsinki brought together all stakeholders in the transition to a circular economy model, a transition that seems unstoppable and in which it was clear that the private sector has the leading role. That is why Forética could not miss this must-attend event, where we witnessed the mobilization of the private sector towards this new model.

Among the speakers were representatives of companies that firmly believe that the transition to a circular model is key to ensuring the sustainability of their businesses in the future, such as Philips, Samsung, Accenture, Apple, Dell, H&M, IBM, IKEA, ING, Renault and Tetra Pak Group. Even the world's largest investment management company, BlackRock, made clear its commitment to circular business. And it was precisely these private sector representatives who called for action from those companies that have not yet begun the transition.

And like all great challenges, the challenges are numerous, but the opportunities are also unexpected. The generation of new jobs, the reduction of operating costs and energy consumption, the improvement of competitiveness and the strengthening of relationships with customers and suppliers are some of the advantages that were highlighted.

In the words of Quentin Drewell, global head of circular economy at Accenture, "the transition to a circular economy could contribute up to $4.5 trillion to the global economy by 2030, leading to global GDP growth and helping to increase global resilience."

But where can companies start? Some of the keys mentioned to move forward were the following: having circular supply chains that use renewable energy sources and recyclable materials; implementing resource recovery systems to capture resources that are still useful, such as by-products or waste; extending the useful life of products as much as possible, including eco-design, repair or resale; learning about existing product exchange platforms, such as MarketPlaceHUB, the platform launched by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD); and moving from selling products to offering them as services (from product to service).

All this, combining these actions with disruptive technologies, working as a team from the different areas of the company, starting on a small scale, seeking collaboration with other stakeholders and monitoring the actions with indicators designed for this purpose.

It is not an easy task, but it is possible, especially with the help of the tools that are emerging from different reference organizations. Of particular note is the CEO Guide for moving towards a circular economy, signed by 14 CEOs, which was presented in Helsinki by the WBCSD, together with Factor 10, its leadership initiative to accompany the private sector towards a circular model.

Finally, BSI has recently launched the BS8001 standard to help companies integrate circular economy principles into their day-to-day activities and long-term strategies.

And of course, from Forética, as representative of the WBCSD in Spain, we will work to provide a solution in Spain to the challenge posed by the transition from a linear economy to a circular economy. To this end, we will launch an impact business initiative to highlight the commitment and efforts that our member companies are making in terms of circular economy, as well as to bring relevant and current information on this topic, to train and guide the private sector on business case and to share tools to do it more efficiently.

We continue to move forward, albeit in a circular fashion!

Related articles