Skip to main content
Home » Sustainable Business » Our current problem: we take, we make, we waste
Sustainable Business Q2 2022

Our current problem: we take, we make, we waste

iStock / Getty Images Plus / Rudzhan Nagiev

Andrew Morlet

CEO, Ellen MacArthur Foundation 

As the urgency increases to reach net zero targets and align with the Sustainable Development Goals, more and more businesses are harnessing the power of the circular economy to create resilience and drive positive change.

Transforming our linear economy into one that is regenerative by design comes with its own set of challenges. Currently, we take materials out of the ground, then make them into products that are thrown away and inevitably end up in landfills, incinerators, leaking into the environment or choking our oceans.

We are deep in debt with nature. Much like running up financial debts – which can result in bankruptcy – when we take too much from our natural environment. Without ensuring and encouraging its recovery, we run the risk of local, regional, and eventually, global ecosystem collapse.

We cannot remain locked into a system that will not work in the long term because it’s depleting our finite resources – fast. We need a bigger idea. One that targets the root causes of the climate crisis, biodiversity loss, waste and pollution. And one that can scale – fast.

We are deep in debt with nature.

So, what’s the big idea?

The circular economy is driven by regenerative design and to take this resilient and prosperous transformation forward, it is first crucial that we go beyond rethinking how we make individual products and consider the entire system that surrounds them.

Circular economy innovation is centred around redesigning products, services and the way our businesses work to shift our whole economic system from take-make-waste to one that eliminates waste, keeps products and materials in circulation and regenerates nature. This includes our business models, how customers access products and what happens to those products when we have finished with them so we can keep the materials in the system for as long as possible.

Turning ambition into action

The role of all businesses, regardless of size, is to find new, circular ways of creating, delivering and capturing value that also benefits society and the environment. Business sits at the heart of this transition and a circular economy shift will create a system that allows us all to make better choices.

Choices that are part of the solution to global challenges, rather than part of the problems.

Next article