A wise man once said that “none of us are as smart as all of us.”

Wisdom indeed, as practitioners from over 30 companies, including Coty, ASOS, John Lewis and Unilever, found when they came together for Manufacture 2030 and WBCSD’s workshop on the circular economy, led by Brendan Edgerton from WBCSD, with presentations by Mark Dempsey from HP Inc. and the wise man himself – Jon Khoo from Interface.

Practice makes progress

Held at Interface’s light, stylish showroom in London, the circular economy workshop was designed to minimise theory and focus on practice: what do designers, manufacturers and procurers need to do to incorporate the circular economy into their day jobs - and where should they start?

“Our vision is to create a world where more than 9 billion people can live well within our planet’s boundaries. To do this, we need to collaborate across sectors to unlock opportunities.”

– Andrea Brown, WBCSD

Our answer? Start with each other.

The Manufacture 2030 team don’t believe that innovative ideas can germinate in a room full of passive listeners, so we were keen to dedicate the majority of the workshop to three group discussions to allow participants to pool their challenges, opinions and experience. How else could we find out how a bike designer could help a fashion brand, or how a carpet tile company collaborated with a zoo? (Hear us out…)

A little more conversation then a little more action, please

WBCSD’s Brendan Edgerton framed each discussion group with concise, informative presentations on circular economy models for designers, buyers and makers, before unleashing his audience and letting their creative juices run free.  

While discussions were numerous and varied, a handful of themes, questions and challenges recurred throughout the day.

1. Cross-industry collaboration helps companies to overcome challenges faster

“Collaborations and partnerships continue to open doors – they can mean real commercial success.”

– Jon Khoo, Interface

2The circular economy needs to be commercialised at scale

“We see the most success when the financial aspect fits with sustainability aspect.”

– Jon Gorman, PZ Cussons

3. Companies need to find ways to align customer behaviour with circular practices

“People don’t want to change their buying habits, but they expect sustainability and are disappointed if they don’t get it.”

– Adam Hall, Surfdome

4. How and when should companies begin to incorporate the circular economy?

“The most opportunity is created if the circular economy is integrated in the design phase.”

– Brendan Edgerton, WBCSD

…and many more. You can add your voice to the circular economy conversation and ask more questions via the Manufacture 2030 platform – register for free today!

From ink cartridges to carpet tiles

Once we had dragged ourselves away from a moreish vegetarian and vegan lunch, we were given insight into HP Inc’s circular economy practices by Mark Dempsey and Interface’s Net-Works project by Jon Khoo – a glimpse of how these companies are finding success through the circular economy.

“The availability of resources is going down and demand is going up. We’re going to need 2.3 planet earth’s by 2050!”

– Mark Dempsey, HP Inc.

Between HP Inc’s reuse and recycling of ink cartridges which spans 73 countries to Net-Works’ quest to tackle ocean plastic by turning discarded fishing nets into carpets in partnership with the Zoological Society of London it became clear that, with the willingness to take the first small steps to change and an open mind to unusual partnerships, companies can move from simply doing no harm to actively doing good – with resounding commercial success.

The most vivid impression we took away from the workshop was the eagerness of those present to engage with each other, pool knowledge and discover that many challenges in the practical application of circular economy processes transcend industry boundaries. 

What's next?

The aim of our workshop was to start conversations around circular economy practices and help companies to feel empowered to make changes - not just for that particular day, but for the weeks, months and years to follow.

To join the conversation, ask questions and share expertise, join the Manufacture 2030 community today – registration is quick, easy and free! Be there or be... circular.