Circular economy

Reading suggestions: “Waste to Wealth: the Circular Economy Advantage”

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Bocconi University: presentation of the book promoted by the Accenture Foundation. Authors propose 5 new business models.

“The passage to circular economy might be the greatest revolution and opportunity of the last 250 years for what concerns the production and consumption models of our global economy”. This is the incipit of “Waste to Wealth: the Circular Economy Advantage”, by Jakob Rutqvist, Peter Lacy and Beatrice Lamonica, published by Egea, promoted by the Italian Accenture Foundation and recently presented at the Bocconi University of Milan.

The authors of the text identify five new business models to promote circular growth, and discuss the technologies and skills required to transform these models in a real competitive advantage.

The core of the book is the concept of waste, which is used to refer not only to material waste, such as garbage, but also to the following four points:

  • Wasted resources are materials and energy that can’t be regenerated and disappear forever after their consumption.
  • Products with a wasted life cycle have a functioning time that is artificially designed to be short. They are also products that are eliminated in spite of the high demand of consumers.
  • Products with a wasted potential are products that could be used much more than they actually are: cars, for example, typically remain unused for about 90% of their life span.
  • Wasted valuable components are spare parts, materials and energy contained in products that are dumped and not recycled: these components go wasted, while they could be put to new use.

The authors add: “All in all, all this waste conceals the greatest economic opportunity of our times. Finding business solutions to turn waste into resources makes a lot of sense from an economic point of view, and it also allows economies and businesses to grow without increasing the need to exploit natural resources that are close to depletion. A new system would make us shift from a growth model based on resources to a new era based on efficiency. At the same time, waste and even the concept of waste itself would be eliminated, thanks to the awareness that every resource has a potential value beyond its current use”.

For further information, read an abstract by Peter Lacy, Global Managing Director of Sustainability Services at Accenture, on the “Nova” insert of “Il Sole 24 Ore”

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