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Perspective

Waste management

The future is circular

Blog post by Camilla Haustrup Hermansen, chair of the Danish government’s climate partnership for waste, water and circular economy. The blog post is part of a series of perspectives leading up to LOOP Forum in Copenhagen and Circular City Week in New York.

Camilla Haustrup Hermansen

Camilla Haustrup Hermansen is Deputy CEO and co-owner of the Danish food packaging company Plus Pack, whose vision is to deliver circular food packaging. Camilla is chair of the Danish government’s climate partnership for waste, water and circular economy, chair of the Danish Design Center and member of the national Green Business Forum . Camilla’s main focus is on design, development and implementation of de facto circular initiatives, which will enable a more sustainable consumption and production.

Plus Pack

I believe that the transition from a linear to a circular economy is one of the most important imperatives of my lifetime. Globally, resource extraction and processing account for 90% of biodiversity loss and water stress, and the production and consumption of materials account for almost half of global greenhouse gas emissions. In other words, switching to renewable energy and enhancing energy efficiency is essential, but the efforts will only bring us halfway on the road towards carbon neutrality in 2050.

The transition towards circular economy and improved resource efficiency holds significant potential. Not only does a circular approach to production and consumption reduce carbon emissions and pollution, it also boosts innovation and increases competitiveness. It is, indeed, a paradigm shift from our current take-make-waste economy to a resource economy which aims to redefine growth, focusing on positive, society-wide benefits.

We need a more sustainable resource economy

To me it is clear. We need a new paradigm based on a more sustainable resource economy. Not only in relation to energy, but also materials. It calls for innovative collaborations and agile public-private partnerships, where relevant stakeholders can actively participate in shaping the systems, which will enable more responsible production and consumption. It calls for direction, alignment, and commitment not only in the companies, but on a large scale. Nationally, internationally, and globally.

Meanwhile companies can design for increased recyclability, increase their use of recycled materials, introduce new types of materials, enable reuse models, and make products and solutions with longer lifecycles while reducing waste. Ultimately, the transition towards a circular resource economy involves everything and everybody – our society, cities and companies, energy sources, materials, and products.

Accelerating circular business models through design 

Every large movement starts with the first important steps. Data, digital tools, and design are key enablers in the understanding and development of new circular business models. Design is the key factor in delivering the needed sustainable growth of the future.

Around 80 percent of a product’s environmental footprint is locked in the design phase, according to the European Commission. It is crucial that designers have circularity in mind in everything they do and help unlock the potential of a circular economy. The design choices we make today define the circularity of our products and materials tomorrow.

A circular approach to production and consumption not only reduces carbon emissions and pollution, it also makes our companies, economies and societies more regenerative and resilient for the future. There has never been a better time than today to rethink our existing business models and to come up with new, innovative, and truly circular and sustainable business models.

Don't miss out on upcoming events

LOOP Forum will be held in Copenhagen on 27-28 April. Circular City Week is held in New York from 2-8 May 2022.

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