Solutions&Co 2017: The circular economy
For the third year running, African Business joins other business newspapers around the world to bring you stories about innovative companies as part of the Solutions&Co network.
While we can rejoice in the sharp rise of the global middle class, especially in emerging economies, the accompanying growth in consumption puts further pressure on raw materials and underscores the limits of our linear economic model – “take, make, dispose.” According to the Global Footprint Network, it now takes the earth 18 months to regenerate the natural resources we use in one year. Obviously, this is not sustainable.
But there are promising developments underway, too, as innovators around the world pave the way for a “circular” economy to emerge at all levels, giving rise to new business models and economic opportunities.
Today, as a member of Solutions&Co, a network of 20 leading business newspapers from around the world, African Business brings you stories about the most innovative companies and initiatives accelerating our transition towards a circular economy.
Some companies are considering their products’ life cycles, including recycling, as early as the design phase. Certain cities are organising industrial parks where the waste of one company becomes the input of another one. National governments have started banning plastic bags and experimenting with repair tax incentives. Consumers can rent blue jeans instead of buying them. And urban farms are sprouting out of plastic bottles in Cameroon.
The circular economy tackles problems at their roots by reducing our dependence on finite products. It shifts our economies towards a more virtuous circle, designing out waste at all levels while restoring our manufactured, human, social, natural and financial capital. This new economy also represents a remarkable opportunity to protect the environment while creating jobs and wealth – an estimated €1.8 trillion ($2.1 trillion) by 2030 in Europe alone.
And though the circular economy addresses complex problems, it should not be seen as a simple, standardised solution. Rather, it is a collaborative effort in which everyone has a role to play.
For this third edition of Solutions&Co, spearheaded by the social enterprise Sparknews, our readers in China, Brazil, South Africa, India, France, Germany, the UK and elsewhere will discover a range of initiatives accelerating the world’s transition towards a circular economy. By sharing these stories, our media network spreads the word about innovative solutions to climate issues near and far.
Businesses featured in our previous editions have attracted new opportunities as a result; some have forged partnerships with major companies and organisations. These projects have also inspired the founding partner of Solutions&Co, Total, which is seeking out circular solutions for a sustainable energy transition.
Christian de Boisredon, founder, SparkNews