The DS Smith Supply Cycle Think Tank workshop was held during the Resource Expo in March.
The panel of experts was Sophie Thomas, RSA/The Great Recovery Project; Mark Shayler, Ape; Markus Zils, Returnity Partners; Tom Campbell-White, DS Smith; and Ray Georgeson, Resource Association.
Following a panel debate, facilitated by MRW editor Robin Latchem, delegates from a range of industry sectors and job functions split into four groups, representing each of the building blocks, to discuss the blockers and enablers to making the vision a reality.
The findings of the most recent Ellen MacArthur Foundation Towards the Circular Economy Report, volume 3, 2014, were the starting point for the workshop. It suggests that more than $1 trillion in materials savings can be achieved each year by 2025 as a result of scaling up the circular economy.
DS Smith wanted to see how businesses could start to meet those savings, identify how firms can realise the potential benefits, what they need to do and the ways they will have to change their approach.
- Enablers and blockers can be interchangeable across all building blocks, allowing us to take either one step backwards or one step closer to a circular economy.
- Product design: the role of procurement can help and hinder change. Incorporating recyclability at the design stage of products is the key to ensuring reuse again and again.
- Business models: we need to overcome resistance to change, have buy-in from senior management teams and the infrastructure within a company to implement change.
- Reverse networks: the legislative framework needs to encourage growth and not hinder development. We need clear political leadership supporting the ethos of the circular economy.
- Enabling conditions: a combination of regulations and fiscal measures is required to shape the circular and shrink the linear model.
- Collaboration is central to developing a resilient circular economy. Everyone within the supply cycle needs to collaborate to achieve the best potential.