The Circular Economy

1492 was a pivotal year. Christopher Columbus, an Italian sailing under the Spanish flag reached the Americas. Meanwhile the Ottoman sultan Bayezid II welcomed the Sephardi Jews who had been expelled from Spain recording that "he who has impoverished his own country [has] enriched mine!"

The circular economy seeks to understand true cost and to recognise value throughout the supply chain. Following the circular trade winds, ships moved cargo from places of abundance to scarcity. The circular economy follows this pattern and aims to share the upside and reduce if not eliminate waste.

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Application of UN SDG 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
Sustainable consumption and production is about promoting resource and energy efficiency, sustainable infrastructure, and providing access to basic services, green and decent jobs and a better quality of life for all. Its implementation helps to achieve overall development plans, reduce future economic, environmental and social costs, strengthen economic competitiveness and reduce poverty.

Since sustainable consumption and production aims at “doing more and better with less,” net welfare gains from economic activities can increase by reducing resource use, degradation and pollution along the whole life cycle, while increasing quality of life.

In essence we see the circular economy as understanding your value and making a reasonable trade.

Old (old) school values
We are further reminded that Western economies have only been in the ascendance for some 300 of that last 2,000 years. The Circular economy emphasises Eastern philosophical values.

These values are shared by Iwi, whose form of business is social enterprise by nature. Iwi are guardians of the land, stewards for those who come next, and a contributing member to Environmental & Social Governance “ESG” harmony.

Circular economy examples we are seeing in the NZ market

Highlight and reward good behaviour
Armillary Capital, a private capital advisory firm have penned a two-part email focusing on the circular economy and the ability for New Zealand to overcome its addiction to plastic. Their writing highlights both customers and companies doing well by doing good in better managing the environment.

They conclude by offering reduced standard rates by 25% on services for any prospective client working in the sustainability or circular economy sectors.

Research the problem first
Companies like THL, a large global RV fleet operator are tackling issues which affect them head on. The company is researching Tourism impacts in the key destinations visited by their clients. They are in the evidence gathering stage and looking to engage with communities in each location.

From the reviews it is expected that strategies will emerge that will be tailored to each destination. For while it is a destination for their clients it is home to the communities.

Intergenerational connection
We are encouraged by stories of pensioners working with prisoners. We encourage professional service certification bodies to recognise training at risk groups to strengthen the community. Imagine for example senior directors working with school boards of trustees in lower decile locations to improve the outcomes for our tamariki.

Skills that parties can offer to each other for strengthening each other as well as creating something that would not exist in isolation.

Conclusion
We remember that Columbus was seeking the western passage to Cathay. Bayezid’s father Mehmed II gave birth to the Italian Renaissance through the expulsion of Christians from Constantinople in 1453.

In a circular economy it pays to think through the supply chain and value for each and every participant. Else we impoverish ourselves and each other with no enrichment for anyone.

InsightsBrian Steele