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Saturday, June 29, 2013

A Revolutionary Evolution - going from a linear to circular economy

image from Sense of  Events Blog
Until relatively recent history a flat, linear and finite Earth was common belief. Although 6th century BC astronomer Pythagoras introduced the spherical Earth paradigm and third century BC Greek scholar Eratosthenes of Cyrene calculated the Earth's circumference, it took Christopher Columbus' 1492 Atlantic voyage to dispel the flat Earth myth. With the fear of "falling off the Earth" gone, a new world of possibilities and discoveries emerged.

Humanity is in the midst of a similar paradigm shift from a linear economy to a circular economy. The entrenched world economy is based on a linear mentality of produce, use and dispose without regard to nature's no waste systems. A circular economy is modeled after nature's perfection where systems flow in holographic patterns where all benefit and waste is nonexistent.

A  spiral is indicative of growth &
mirrors our DNA.
Image from Next Wave
In the Zero Waste in ACTION Blog posts, Perpetual Life Cycle System - simplicity is key and The Perpetual Spiral, the evolution from a zero waste focus to nature's no waste systems is introduced as an Elemental Impact platform. Here are several quotes from the posts:
In nature "waste" does not exist, rather a perpetual life cycle rearranges molecular structures so the finished product for one use is the basis for its next life. 
Remember death is always followed by birth - we are in the process of birthing a civilization where technology-based solutions mirror nature's perfect regeneration processes. 
Emerging from prominent publications - Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things by William McDonough & Michael Braungart  and Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature” by Janine Benyus as two examples - the circular economy platform is a major stride in moving away from linear production systems. As with nature, in a circular economy there is no waste generated and products are made for reuse, whether in their current form or as the raw material for another use. Renewable energy is integral to a successful circular economy.

For a circular economy to replace linear structures in-place, the WE Consciousness is a necessity within the economic culture. Ei introduces the WE Consciousness in the ZWA Blog post, Zero Waste is a Team Sport.

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation is at the helm of the economy's revolutionary evolution as the home to the Circular Economy 100, a platform to re-think the future. Committed to action, the CE100 is a global platform bringing together leading companies, emerging innovators and regions to accelerate the transition to a circular economy over a 1000-day (3 year) period. 

A CE100 overview presentation is available for download on the Ei Reference Materials & Tools page. The short video, What is the Circular Economy 100, is an excellent, interesting introduction.

At the foundation of the CE100 is the McKinsey & Company issued paper,Towards the Circular Economy: Economic and business rationale for an accelerated transition, commissioned by the EMFThe January 2012, paper quantifies the tremendous resource savings inherent in evolving from a linear to a circular economy along with other benefits.

Every six months the CE100 hosts two-day acceleration workshops that include core circular economy topics and elective sessions focused on common challenges, best practices, emerging trends and key learnings for circular economy innovation.

On June 19, the CE100 hosted their first annual summit in London with an impressive program consisting of three sessions: Macro Challenge and Opportunity,  Circular Economy - Solution Space and Rethinking Design with topics covered in a series of presentations. 

Wendy & Eric Schmidt w/ Ellen
photo from
In the evening the EMF hosted a Schmidt-MacArthur Public Lecture. Eric Schmidt - Google Executive Chair - was the keynote speaker and Dominic Waughray, World Economic Forum, chaired a stellar panel: Dayna Baumeister (Biomimicry 3.8), Professor Michael Braungart (Erasmus University),  William McDonough (McDonough Advisors), Jeremy Oppenheim (McKinsey & Company) and Professor Walter Stahel (Product Life Institute).

Taking our first global footsteps, Ei Chair Scott Seydel attended the summit as a CE100 guest.

Paradigms are shifting with a new world of possibilities ready to emerge. Like Columbus grounded the Earth as spherical, soon a major event will serve as a catapult  to shift humanity from a linear way of life to a circular economy.

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