These Four Companies Are Embracing the Circular Economy
By Sean Fleming
What goes around comes around, according to the old saying. And in the case of the circular economy, that's certainly true.
The circular economy takes a different approach to the take-make-dispose model of consumption to which many have become accustomed. By reusing and recycling as much as possible, plus repurposing and selling on items that have outlived their initial use, the circular economy is creating jobs and generating economic activity, while easing some pressures on the environment.
It's an approach based on "designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use, and regenerating natural systems," in the words of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. The idea is gaining momentum and truly hitting the mainstream as a growing number of household-name brands adopt circular methods and develop products with circularity built in.
Organizations around the world are creating new platforms to support circular innovation. For instance, the World Economic Forum's Scale360° Playbook initiative brings together technologists, researchers, entrepreneurs and governments to develop new products and solutions, maximize resources and rethink value chains. Additionally, emerging circular innovators from around the world can connect and work together in sharing ideas and solutions through UpLink, the Forum's open innovation platform.
Regenerate, reuse, recycle. Ellen MacArthur Foundation
Here are four examples of the circular innovation that could be coming to a store near you.
Recycling Incentives: Thousand Fell
Thousand Fell is already making a name for itself as an environmentally conscious manufacturer with shoes made from sustainable materials such as coconut husk and sugar cane, and even recycled plastic bottles,
Now, in partnership with TerraCycle and UPS, the maker has launched a special recycling incentive. Customers can return old pairs of Thousand Fell shoes back to the manufacturer. Thousand Fell will then recycle the returned footwear and send customers $20 that can be used toward a new pair of shoes.
A Big Brand Selling Goods Second-Hand: IKEA
Visitors to the Swedish town of Eskilstuna, about 100km outside of the capital Stockholm, could visit a 1,000-year-old stone covered with Viking runes and pictures. They could also visit IKEA's first-ever second-hand store.
The shop will feature gently used IKEA furniture as part of its efforts to reach its 2030 climate targets.
Head of sustainability at the Scandinavian furniture giant Jonas Carlehed told Reuters earlier this year that: "We are making a huge readjustment, maybe the biggest IKEA has ever made, and one of the keys to reaching [the company's 2030 climate targets] is to manage to help our customers prolong the life of their products."
The company has also recently started a buy-back scheme for customers – it gives vouchers in exchange for the return of unwanted furniture and other items. That scheme has, however, been suspended in some locations because of ongoing pandemic-related restrictions.
Re-usable Fast Food Packaging: Burger King
Takeaway food is big business -- but the packaging for those meals poses a sustainability challenge.
Global takeaway brand Burger King has unveiled a solution in the form of reusable packaging intended to reduce the amount of waste it generates. Customers in New York, Tokyo, and Portland, Oregon will soon be able to buy burgers and drinks in reusable packaging.
The plan, one in place for next year, features a small deposit charged initially and then refunded when the customer returns with the boxes and cups, which are taken away for cleaning and processing via the zero-waste e-commerce system Loop.
Shoes You Don't Own: Adidas
Sportswear multinational Adidas has a range of footwear designed with recycling in mind. Its UltraBoost DNA Loop shoes are made from just one material – thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU). No glue is used in its manufacture, instead, it is assembled using high temperatures.
On its website, Adidas describes the UltraBoost Loop as the shoes customers will never own, but will instead return once they are finished with them.
"If the end can become the beginning, we can help keep products in play and waste out of landfill," the company says.
Reposted with permission from World Economic Forum.
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Wisdom the mōlī, or Laysan albatross, is the oldest wild bird known to science at the age of at least 70. She is also, as of February 1, a new mother.
<div id="dadb2" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="aa2ad8cb566c9b4b6d2df2693669f6f9"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1357796504740761602" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">🚨Cute baby alert! Wisdom's chick has hatched!!! 🐣😍 Wisdom, a mōlī (Laysan albatross) and world’s oldest known, ban… https://t.co/Nco050ztBA</div> — USFWS Pacific Region (@USFWS Pacific Region)<a href="https://twitter.com/USFWSPacific/statuses/1357796504740761602">1612558888.0</a></blockquote></div>
By Hui Hu
Winter is supposed to be the best season for wind power – the winds are stronger, and since air density increases as the temperature drops, more force is pushing on the blades. But winter also comes with a problem: freezing weather.
Comparing rime ice and glaze ice shows how each changes the texture of the blade. Gao, Liu and Hu, 2021, CC BY-ND
Ice buildup changes air flow around the turbine blade, which can slow it down. The top photos show ice forming after 10 minutes at different temperatures in the Wind Research Tunnel. The lower measurements show airflow separation as ice accumulates. Icing Research Tunnel of Iowa State University, CC BY-ND
While traditional investment in the ocean technology sector has been tentative, growth in Israeli maritime innovations has been exponential in the last few years, and environmental concern has come to the forefront.
theDOCK aims to innovate the Israeli maritime sector. Pexels<p>The UN hopes that new investments in ocean science and technology will help turn the tide for the oceans. As such, this year kicked off the <a href="https://www.oceandecade.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)</a> to galvanize massive support for the blue economy.</p><p>According to the World Bank, the blue economy is the "sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem," <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412019338255#b0245" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Science Direct</a> reported. It represents this new sector for investments and innovations that work in tandem with the oceans rather than in exploitation of them.</p><p>As recently as Aug. 2020, <a href="https://www.reutersevents.com/sustainability/esg-investors-slow-make-waves-25tn-ocean-economy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Reuters</a> noted that ESG Investors, those looking to invest in opportunities that have a positive impact in environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, have been interested in "blue finance" but slow to invest.</p><p>"It is a hugely under-invested economic opportunity that is crucial to the way we have to address living on one planet," Simon Dent, director of blue investments at Mirova Natural Capital, told Reuters.</p><p>Even with slow investment, the blue economy is still expected to expand at twice the rate of the mainstream economy by 2030, Reuters reported. It already contributes $2.5tn a year in economic output, the report noted.</p><p>Current, upward <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/-innovation-blue-economy-2646147405.html" target="_self">shifts in blue economy investments are being driven by innovation</a>, a trend the UN hopes will continue globally for the benefit of all oceans and people.</p><p>In Israel, this push has successfully translated into investment in and innovation of global ports, shipping, logistics and offshore sectors. The "Startup Nation," as Israel is often called, has seen its maritime tech ecosystem grow "significantly" in recent years and expects that growth to "accelerate dramatically," <a href="https://itrade.gov.il/belgium-english/how-israel-is-becoming-a-port-of-call-for-maritime-innovation/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">iTrade</a> reported.</p><p>Driving this wave of momentum has been rising Israeli venture capital hub <a href="https://www.thedockinnovation.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">theDOCK</a>. Founded by Israeli Navy veterans in 2017, theDOCK works with early-stage companies in the maritime space to bring their solutions to market. The hub's pioneering efforts ignited Israel's maritime technology sector, and now, with their new fund, theDOCK is motivating these high-tech solutions to also address ESG criteria.</p><p>"While ESG has always been on theDOCK's agenda, this theme has become even more of a priority," Nir Gartzman, theDOCK's managing partner, told EcoWatch. "80 percent of the startups in our portfolio (for theDOCK's Navigator II fund) will have a primary or secondary contribution to environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria."</p><p>In a company presentation, theDOCK called contribution to the ESG agenda a "hot discussion topic" for traditional players in the space and their boards, many of whom are looking to adopt new technologies with a positive impact on the planet. The focus is on reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment, the presentation outlines. As such, theDOCK also explicitly screens candidate investments by ESG criteria as well.</p><p>Within the maritime space, environmental innovations could include measures like increased fuel and energy efficiency, better monitoring of potential pollution sources, improved waste and air emissions management and processing of marine debris/trash into reusable materials, theDOCK's presentation noted.</p>
theDOCK team includes (left to right) Michal Hendel-Sufa, Head of Alliances, Noa Schuman, CMO, Nir Gartzman, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, and Hannan Carmeli, Co-Founder & Managing Partner. Dudu Koren<p>theDOCK's own portfolio includes companies like Orca AI, which uses an intelligent collision avoidance system to reduce the probability of oil or fuel spills, AiDock, which eliminates the use of paper by automating the customs clearance process, and DockTech, which uses depth "crowdsourcing" data to map riverbeds in real-time and optimize cargo loading, thereby reducing trips and fuel usage while also avoiding groundings.</p><p>"Oceans are a big opportunity primarily because they are just that – big!" theDOCK's Chief Marketing Officer Noa Schuman summarized. "As such, the magnitude of their criticality to the global ecosystem, the magnitude of pollution risk and the steps needed to overcome those challenges – are all huge."</p><p>There is hope that this wave of interest and investment in environmentally-positive maritime technologies will accelerate the blue economy and ESG investing even further, in Israel and beyond.</p>
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