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Skip to 0 minutes and 7 secondsThe circular economy is an approach to economy that comes from a systemic view of the world. It differs from the linear economy by the fact that it tries to maintain the usability of products, their components, and even their materials at the highest level for as long as possible. And any biological nutrients that are used, either in the manufacture or in the usage of these products, will be returned to the biosphere in the safest possible way. So what that really means is they try to use renewable energies and renewable resources wherever possible, and maintain existing products to the highest utility.

Skip to 0 minutes and 54 secondsThe circular economy can be applied in every sector, and the concepts can be adapted by any industry and any business, whether it's a small or large one. So for example, if you're a mainly office based business the easiest thing for you to do to get involved in the circular economy is to make very mindful decisions when it comes to replacing any products that you use. For example, you might want to check out furniture suppliers that take part in the circular economy.

Skip to 1 minute and 28 secondsAnd maybe instead of outright buying new furniture you might want to enter into performance contracts with various suppliers who will take back the furniture at the end of their life, and either up-cycle, refurbish, or recycle them in a sustainable way. Well there are obviously a lot of practical aspects that are barriers to adopting the circular economy. Such things as structural arrangements, and even cultural arrangements in organisations, but the real biggest barriers are in the mindsets of people and organisations. For example, the circular economy relies heavily on the reuse of products. That means either through recycle, or through up-cycling, refurbishment, just maintaining products for a longer time.

Skip to 2 minutes and 20 secondsNow many people believe that products who have been up-cycled of refurbished are of inferior quality, and that's not necessarily true at all. In fact, there are some amazing examples of organisations that do this in a very high quality level. So what we need to do is we need to overcome this mindset that something that has been refurbished or maintained over a long time isn't of as good quality as a new product.

A perspective on the Circular Economy

What is a Circular Economy?

There are different definitions and points of view which however share some core principles. By watching the above video, an interview with Miriam Gilbert, the point of view of a practitioner working for a consultancy firm is explained.

As founder and director of Coincidencity, she is a business professional with over 19 years’ experience in organisational structuring, change and transformation. She trained with PricewaterhouseCoopers as a chartered accountant, which gave her a great insight into how organisations work. Following her qualification she spent some time working with Financial Services organisations, as well as with major project consultancies, transport agencies, construction firms and educational establishments.

Talking point

  • Based on the definition of the circular economy that Miriam gives, try to list three aspects that the circular economy has in common with the strategies for product returns management that we have seen and one innovative aspect.

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This video is from the free online course:

Supply Chains in Practice: How Things Get to You

The University of Warwick