The circular economy mindset

Circular economy is the word of the moment. The government of Finland has stated that Finland will be the leading country in circular economy by 2025 and the new road map to circular economy by Sitra was released in September. McKinsey estimates that the value of circular economy is around 3 billion for Finland and the potential for new jobs is 75 000.

What is circular economy then? It has many elements that are already known to us such as resource efficiency, renewable energy and recycling to name a few. Apart from a new economic model, circular economy is also a new way of thinking and it requires a systemic change in our economy.

If we think about perfectly functioning circular economy, there would be no waste at all. In circular economy products, materials and components are at their highest utility and value at all times so production and consumption create minimal loss and waste.

It all starts from the design process. All products should be designed in a way that they are easily repaired, modified, updated or re-produced. The lifecycle of products and materials should be as long as possible which would slow down the use of raw materials and create more for less.

For the implementation of circular economy all parties of society need to cooperate and the input of consumers, cities, states and companies is vital. With active cooperation across industries novel ideas can be created and new business can emerge. Cities can act as enablers for circular economy by providing pilot projects for companies that also work as references for future business – that is what we work for in Kouvola Innovation too.

There is a lot to be done in shifting the mindset from cradle-to-grave to cradle-to-cradle. We need to forget waste and see it more as a resource. Our production and consumption patterns are closely linked to the amount of waste we generate and, therefore, it’s important that we adopt the circular economy mindset. Consumers can act as a driving force for circular economy and new emerging consumer habits have already created novel business ideas that relate to renting, co-owning and leasing. Airbnd and its kinds are shaping the business world and challenging the conventional way of thinking about business.

All in all, studies show that circular economy has a lot of potential and, what’s best, it makes sense both environmentally and business wise. Therefore, we should look behind the hype and think what we all can actually do to make circular economy happen.

 

Taru Martikainen
Project Manager