This goes beyond merely patching up the current model. This kind of ‘whole system’ re-engineering will bring a better quality of life and increased opportunities, as it can potentially restore both natural and social capital. Companies, countries and economies that innovate their way to doing things differently are the ones that will be sustainably successful well into the 21st century.
We are reaching the end of the era for cheap fossil fuels and key materials (also referred to as “peak oil” and “resource scarcity”), coupled with rising population and anxieties around water resources, food production and harmful wastes polluting our earth, oceans, atmosphere and even outer space. The depletion of the world’s natural resources is inextricably linked with the generation of an increasing quantity of unwanted by-products, among which domestic and industrial waste, as well as various harmful emissions, are the most problematic. Put simply, industrial processes and the lifestyles that feed on their products consume energy and commodities (i.e. deplete finite reserves), to create products whose fate is, in the vast majority of cases, to end up in landfill, often after only a single use. The current model is unquestionably linear, and it is quite clear that it is bound to reach its own limits.
This realisation triggered the thought process of a few scientists and thinkers, one of whom is Walter Stahel, an architect, economist and one of the founding fathers of industrial sustainability. Credited with having coined the expression “Cradle to Cradle” in the late 1970s, Stahel worked at developing a “closed loop” approach to production processes.
the circular model’s founding principles
The closed loop model is a bio-mimetic (life-imitating) approach, a school of thought that takes nature as an example and considers that our systems should work like organisms, processing nutrients that can be fed back into the cycle – hence the “closed loop” or “regenerative” terms usually associated with it. It is based on 5 founding principles ...
* waste is food
Eliminate waste. The biological and technical component parts (nutrients) of any product should be designed for disassembly and re-purposing. The biological parts are non-toxic and can be simply composted. The technical, polymers, alloys and other man-made materials are designed to be used again with minimal energy.
* diversity is strength
Diverse systems, with many connections and scales are more resilient in the face of external shocks, than systems built just for efficiency – it applies to economies and communities too.
To make this happen…
* energy must come from renewable sources
As in life, any system should ultimately aim to run on ‘current sunshine’ and generate energy through renewable sources.
* prices must tell the truth
Prices are messages in the market and to use resources rationally these prices should reflect the real cost of our activity. It is part of setting the ‘rules of the game’ for positive development cycles.
* systems thinking is key
Understand how things influence one another within a whole.
how can decarbonize help?
- We combine the scientific and analytical with a creative flair for product development and supply chain systems and with the business acumen to find a way to make it work
- We bring a fresh, external perspective that can challenge accepted norms - and the energy and resources to tackle the “extraordinary level of grinding work” that companies have found it takes to move towards a more sustainable circular model
- We know what and where the credible tools are to analyse and develop more sustainable solutions – and if we don’t have them in our own toolkit, we know the our associates who do
- We understand how to work with people within your business and supply chain – from Board and Executive Team to product technologist and supply chain manager to the head of Sustainability or Energy – by complementing their skills and resources and disarming pockets of resistance which quite naturally appear in response to transformational change
Contact us to discuss your requirements and find out more.