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Learn - Deciphering Net Zero

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At the heart of a lot of sustainability thinking is the recognition that we need to embrace a more circular way of thinking.

 

 

The circular economy model is inspired by natural living systems and promotes the fact that there is

'no such thing as waste in nature'.

 

 

Unlike the traditional linear approach of take-make-use-waste, a circular economy is a sustainable closed loop model.

 

It creates value through product recapture and then recycling, restoring and reusing product elements in

remanufacturing - thereby radically limiting the extraction of raw materials at the beginning, and the production

of waste at the end, of a product's life.

 

In essence, it involves keeping products and materials in use for as long as possible. This is driving new trends in repurposing items, easy home repair and the increase in second-hand (or pre-loved) purchasing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The circular economy concept also challenges the necessity of owning products in the way that we are traditionally used to. It is access to what the product provides that is important, rather than the product itself. Understanding this shift in mindset lays the groundwork for shifting our economy from linear to circular and can be seen in many examples now from car sharing clubs to fashion rental.

 

Intelligent modern businesses are asking whether their customers can rent or lease their products instead of buying them outright – with the business keeping the same level of income or profit. This moves away from the built in obsolescence seen often in products today (particularly tech) which is designed to encourage regular new purchases, rather than lifetime use.

 

Other interconnected concepts include Biomimicry, Natural Capitalism, Cradle to Cradle, Frugal Innovation and The Inertia Principle – all outlined in the A-Z of Helpful Terms.

 

 

LIFE CYCLE ANALYSIS (LCA)

 

A Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) is a way of calculating the overall impact that a certain product has on the environment throughout its life. This is often highly complex, as there are many steps in producing even the simplest items. Starting with the extraction of raw materials like metals and rock from the ground, chemicals from plants, wood from trees, and glass from sand. These raw materials then need to be transported to a place where they are made (or manufactured) into parts and put together to create the final product.

 

When the product is made, it needs to be distributed for sale (either directly to the customer or via a wholesaler or third party). Additional resources may be needed to repair or return items. And ultimately, to dispose of it when it is no longer working or needed (its end of life).

 

All these stages have an impact on the environment, and all of them use energy. To properly understand the impact of your product, a Life Cycle Analysis will help you plot every step.

 

Taken from The Sustainable Business Book

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