The 3 Principles of the Circular Economy

An introduction to the Circular Economy.

February 26, 2021

Radicle helps companies enable planet-positive solutions. We’ve developed one of the world’s first software platforms to measure, qualify, and aggregate greenhouse gas emissions. Our team has also consulted with our clients and industry partners globally about monetizing their environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) efforts. While our achievements are something we’re sure proud of, we’re hyper-focused on the future and new ways of doing things. Our latest inspiration is the Circular Economy.

The expert Sustainability Communications team members at Radicle hold a specialized certification in the Circular Economy (Design for Sustainability) from the

Technische Universiteit Delft in the Netherlands. So, we sat down with members of Radicle’s own Sustainability Communications Unit – Claudia Aguirre, Head of Strategy, and Jennifer Dooley, Senior Strategist, to get down to the basics of what the Circular Economy is all about.  

Q. Can you explain to us what the Circular Economy is?

“I learned about the Circular Economy while doing my early training with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, based in the United Kingdom. They explain that the Circular Economy is different from the ‘take-make-waste’ extractive industrial model and instead designs waste out of the system, building on economic, natural, and social capital. Basically, it involves decoupling economic activity from the consumption of finite resources,“ explains Claudia.

Jennifer adds: “It sounds complicated, but the Circular Economy is really based on three simple principles: designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use, and regenerating natural systems.”

Q. Can you take us through the first principle – designing out waste and pollution?

“The first principle, designing out waste and pollution, asks businesses to rethink the supply chain and challenges them to avoid waste and pollution. If you can do this in early product development, that is the best case scenario”, mentions Claudia. She goes on to say, “much of the waste that releases greenhouse gases into the environment comes from structural waste – polluting air, land, and water.”

“Take the example of Tru Earth laundry detergent, a company that is currently enrolled in our very own Climate Smart Certification program”, describes Jennifer. “Tru Earth has designed waste out of the process of doing laundry entirely. They use zero waste laundry detergent strips, packaged in a compostable cardboard sleeve. Each laundry strip dissolves completely when placed in the wash. The ingredients themselves are hypoallergenic and eco-friendly!”   

Q. What about the second principle? What does keeping products and materials in use involve?

“The second principle is all about reimagining an economy that doesn’t use up finite resources but instead reuses, remanufactures, or recycles,” continues Jennifer.

Claudia adds: “The end goal is to use bio-based products, components, and materials to positively impact the economy and the environment. Take the case of Rocky Mountain Soap company. Their liquid soaps, conditioner, and shampoos are offered in 1 litre refill formats – customers return them to the store where they are taken back to their workshop, sanitized, and then reused! And, that is not their only innovation – their latest beauty product – a line of tinted lip colours, is sold in biodegradable packing”.

Q. Explain to us the last principle, regenerating natural systems. How can businesses do this?

“Think about it like this – can we as businesses not only protect but improve our environment? What if we could not just preserve renewable resources but return resources to the soil to support regeneration!” explains Jennifer.

Claudia adds: “Take conservation cropping as an example. Radicle’s agriculture services reward farmers who use no or low-till farming to trap carbon dioxide in the ground, helping mitigate agriculture’s impact on climate change.”

Q. How can I learn more?

 “At Radicle, we’re eager to assist your organization in telling your circularity story to the world. Reach out to us, and our Sustainability Communications team will bring to life your Circular Economy integration plans and social change strategies!” says Claudia.

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