How to embrace a Circular Business model & move towards SDG12


Having just completed a 6 week course on Circularity at Cambridge University, I thought I would share my findings with you all to help as many businesses as possible towards embracing a more sustainable business model.

We won’t go into the obvious reasons why you would want to adopt a circular business model here other than the fact it’s very likely if you still see sustainability, SDG & ESG’s a tick box exercise you are likely to face the same outcome that Blockbuster faced with the change of landscape that Netflix brought them.

What is a Circular Economy?

The current economy is all about take, make and throw away. This is called a liner economy. We take materials from the Earth, make them into products and when they have finished their use they are thrown away.

In contrast, the circular economy where we close the cycles of all these raw materials. It may start with taking materials from earth one or starting with already recycled materials at the beginning of the loop. It’s based on three principles, driven by design:

  • Eliminate waste and pollution
  • Circulate products and materials (at their highest value)
  • Regenerate nature

More information & video on what a Circular Economy is here…

How do I start?

Knowing where and how to start can be a very daunting challenge for any organsation. It will require a complete re-think of how you design and deliver products and services as well as how you operate day to day activities and achieve your long term objectives.

Knowing what you are trying to achieve is a great start, this is where SDG12 comes in. The Sustainable Development Goal 12, titled “responsible consumption and production”, is one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals established by the United Nations in 2015.

The best way to start is with any low hanging fruit you can find in your organisation that can deliver the biggest impacts and opportunities. The usual places to find these opportunities are with energy use, materials, waste and production and consumption impacts on nature.

The Ellen Macarthur Foundation is an excellent resource for you to get started on your journey. It was heavily referred to and featured throughout my Circular Economy course and provides all the insights and guidance any orgnisation needs to get started.

Start with a Circulytics Assessment

Circulytics is a free service from the Ellen Macarthur Foundation that supports a company’s transition towards the circular economy, regardless of industry, complexity, and size. Going beyond assessing products and material flows, this free company-level measuring tool reveals the extent to which a company has achieved circularity across its entire operations.

You can join over 1250 businesses that have signed up to complete a Circulytics assessment. More detail here.

We would recommend smaller organisations should read this guide produced by Kent County Council. Other options are to become a B Certified Corporation.

We have created a playlist of over 50 videos many covered on the Circular Economy course you can watch right now on our Youtube channel. Please subscribe to be kept up to date.

WhatsApp circular Economy Group

During my course, I created a WhattsApp group, we have 100 members from all around the globe of everyone for consultants to heads of ESG for some of the largest corporations in the world. We are all happy to share and help each other implement Circularity. If you have any questions that either I or others from our group could help with just get in contact with me though any of our Social Media channels.

Author: Amin Saleem founder Shop for Climate Change