Scaling the circular economy requires a digital revolution

This article was originally published on Circle Economy.

Technology can be a huge force for good. When utilized for the right purpose, it can improve the state of the planet at an incredible speed.

Ivonne Bojoh, quoted above, is no stranger to working with cutting-edge technology. With a background in digital start-ups across Europe and Southeast Asia, she came to Amsterdam’s Circle Economy as Head of Digital. Her goal? Pushing the pedal on circular economy across the globe by integrating digital tools into the process. In an area that has long been dominated by consulting, it is actually groundbreaking – and necessary – to push the digital agenda across the circular economy landscape. But we are in a race against climate collapse, and to beat it we need your – everyone’s help.

Circle Economy, an impact organization based in Amsterdam, wants to increase global circularity from its current 8.6 percent to 17 percent. According to the analysis, a circular world of 17 percent could greatly reduce global resource consumption and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 39 percent, thereby limiting warming to well below 2 degrees. Integrating circular strategies into global systems – across businesses and national and local governments – will allow the world to shift away from the harmful linear economic practices that have dominated for years and led us down a destructive path. The current global focus on phasing out fossil fuels is – though incredibly important – not enough to really mitigate climate change.

And there is no doubt about it: Climate collapse is no longer politely knocking on our doors, it has broken down barricades and placed itself dominant at the top of the table. To dispel that, we need to scale the knowledge and best practices we have in our towels to new heights. Circle Economy is well positioned to drive this upscaling as it holds 10 years of knowledge of circular economy.

“From framework to method, we know what works and what does not when it comes to implementing circular change. All this knowledge is utilized from one customer to the next. By utilizing the technology, we can distribute knowledge, data insight and deliver tools anywhere, anytime and without borders, “Bojoh said.

Circle Economy is ready to launch a new digital platform to accelerate the circular transitions for businesses, cities and nations around the world. And what does success look like? By the end of 2023, “we aim to have 300 companies, 1,000 cities and 70 nations actively using the platform to gain insight, promote action and connect with each other and track their progress towards a circular economy.” The platform to drive this effect? Our latest launch is named after the Japanese term for “go for it”: Ganbatte. Because we have no time to lose.

Climate collapse no longer knocks politely on our doors, it has broken down barricades and placed itself dominant at the top of the table.

The future is digital; the future is circular

The fourth industrial revolution has spurred technological breakthroughs and digitization across sectors. As climate breakdown is the most pressing issue of our time, technology has greatly shaped the agenda for sustainability and climate mitigation, from electricity to renewable energy to carbon tracking technology and more. This has created an exciting landscape where everything is connected, software-based, data-generating and automated.

We must take advantage of this to get the most out of it Circle Economy’s 10 years of circular knowledge – a gold mine.

Circle Economy’s Circularity Gap Report work with nations, for example, has garnered rich results to guide action. In Norway’s report, specific circular interventions across business and industry could increase Norway’s circular nature from 2.4 per cent to almost 50 per cent and reduce the country’s CO2 footprint by 63 per cent. Meanwhile, the analysis in the Netherlands found context-specific action that could help the country achieve its goal of a fully circular economy by 2050. In Prague, the local City Circle Scan led to the implementation of a large-scale biogas plant, city-wide services for sharing consumables and a ban on disposable plastics as well as the eradication of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers from all 1650 HA city-owned land.

Ultimately, Circle Economy has supported over 80 companies, 30 cities and 20 nations. It also boasts the largest online stock of circular case studies demonstrating action on earth, data structures for over 4,000 cities, and a monitor that tracks the number and range of jobs forming a circular economy. “It’s time to channel this knowledge into a digital form so that it can reach thousands of more stakeholders,” Bojoh noted.

And now there is a unique window of opportunity. Businesses, cities and nations around the world are seeking to put their COP26 promises, promises and policies into action. What they need is a tool that can guide them towards best practices, based on knowledge on earth and up-to-date data.

This is where Ganbatte comes in.

A digital platform can disseminate knowledge – quickly – and amplify it

“We need to act now and share our knowledge – and quickly. The best way to do this is to use a digital platform as an amplifier. It is an essential distribution platform for our hard-earned knowledge,” said Bojoh. The magic here lies in the large number of people a digital tool can reach.

With a digital platform that houses thousands of datasets from around the world, 1,000 cities could effectively search for, identify and implement circular solutions simultaneously. Ganbatte will consist of three levels to support the implementation of an action-focused circular economy:

  • Explore: Set a baseline for circularity at the company, city, or nation level.
  • Scan: Identify handles for change.
  • Trade: See how you can trade effectively.

But time is not on our side and we need your help

Bringing Ganbatte to market has three challenges, Bojoh explained. “Firstly: time is not on our side. We need to develop and launch powerful digital tools as soon as possible to ensure that companies, cities and nations have the opportunity to implement the recommended circular strategies. This is imperative necessary in the light of the climate goals that we must achieve to protect our future. “

Second, Ganbatte will offer case studies collected from around the world. “To ensure that we can distribute the rich knowledge out there, we need everyone out there who has tried, succeeded or failed with any circular strategies to share their stories so others can learn from it,” Bojoh said.

And finally: financing. Ever since the Paris Agreement came into force, investment in climate technology has increased worldwide, growing almost fivefold from $ 6.6 billion in 2016 to over $ 32 billion in 2021. “We have to ride this wave,” said Bojoh. We are grateful for the support we have received from trusts and foundations, and continue to seek support for our multi-year roadmap.

Screenshot of the Ganbatte tool to be launched later this year.

We know that a global circular economy can mitigate the worst consequences of climate collapse: Our obstacle now is to translate theory into action worldwide. Information must be available to all businesses, cities and nations – not just those who can afford it. Ganbatte can take us beyond a one-for-one approach that just scratches the surface of the work to be done – and propels us on the path to a future-proof world.

Learn more about Circle Economy’s digital portfolio and data opportunities

Circle Economy’s digital tool collection is large – and growing. From measuring the number of circular jobs and skills found in countries, cities or sectors with Circular Jobs Monitor, to an open source online library – the largest in the world – of case studies of the circular economy in the Knowledge Hub to an online tool for companies to measure circularity in the Circle Assessment Tool. We also drive the formation of data alliances, which organize and increase access to data, as well as encourage cross-sectoral collaboration. Read more on our digital page.


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