Closed-loop economy cannot be separated from other phenomena that give hope for a better global tomorrow. AI, big data, blockchain, the already mentioned circular economy and other seemingly different areas have a common denominator – they set the directions of thinking for future years, creating a new economy.
But in order for ideas to become a reality, they require a huge effort, a change of thinking and sensitivity on many levels. Education, business design, good practices of dialogue between market participants need reflection and going beyond schemes. Excessive focus on vision or belief in the driving force of incidental implementations can reduce an opportunity for a genuine change to salon anecdotes.
We need a new way of thinking
The way of thinking determines the course of action. We are taught to reproduce patterns that help us organize our lives. In the case of circular economy, however, we are not dealing with a simple innovation and a change of this pattern. After all, we won’t immediately agree that we will start using what is created and what remains from production more wisely. Companies have not developed standards for discussing technology in a safe way, and effective implementation of circular economy will require not only cooperation between specialized companies, but also a serious intersectoral exchange of information.
Effective development of new ways of proceeding will certainly not take place without the participation of the legislator and the world of science. Therefore, taking advantage of the opportunity we face requires going beyond task-based thinking, e.g. concerning challenges related to the new specification of the enterprise offer resulting from the change of components or the necessary regulatory adaptations, taking into account the new mechanisms.
The world will not become better, cheaper and healthier than it is now; there are too many barriers. However, the fundamental obstacle lies within us. Since childhood, we have been shaped by the imperative of disposing of waste, considered as side products of our functioning. From the very first years we are taught that when we eat or play, we leave behind something dirty, bad, something to get rid of and forget about if we do not use it anymore. Such thinking is perpetuated at school, at university and at work. This translates into the whole economy and its functioning at all levels.
We must therefore be aware that it will be necessary to work much harder than if we want to change habits. And since change will be complicated, the question arises as to who should bear the burden of change? Undoubtedly, an attempt to count on the perpetration of a third party or cooperation across divisions may reduce the chances of rapid success. Thus, it is worth considering how to stimulate a global revolution, through evolution within the organization in terms of its own competences, resources and goal orientation.
First of all, there is a need for platforms for the exchange of experience between business representatives, organisations and the state or specialised bilateral groups. Without the exchange of knowledge and experience there will be no tissue facilitating the economic development of ideas. It is optimistic to look at the fact that each party has the tools to involve other partners. Popularization of ideas will give rise to initiatives and create the space to implement change on a universal scale.
Ideas for real actions
At the level of governmental institutions and organisations, it is becoming increasingly common to engage stakeholders in a dialogue, i.e. a structured and transparent exchange of ideas and mutual expectations. Such activities may be carried out based on individual initiatives or with the use of certified methodologies. An interesting example is the so-called Talanoa Dialogue, a process designed and mandated by the parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to summarize the global collective efforts aimed at achieving the objectives of the Paris Agreement.
At company level, it is possible to create platforms for the exchange of commercial information, which can form the basis for coexistence in the closed-loop economy. An interesting inspiration may be the Polish start-up CityGlobe. The platform facilitates and accelerates the process of making business decisions by providing economic and demographic data concerning cities, facilitates contact with city authorities and enables establishing cooperation. Thanks to it, companies can quickly collect the data necessary to identify a new direction of development. They also have the tools to conduct effective educational campaigns, building sensitivity to new solutions.
The role of non-financial periodical reports is becoming more and more important as another space for promoting the idea of a closed-loop economy. Business is open to a change of thinking about the economy, but it will certainly not happen though happening thinking. Circular economy can become an important element in building a company’s reputation.
The growing role of social pressure is also important. Citizens are not only able to organise themselves easily and quickly through social media today, but above all they are aware of these opportunities and are keen to make use of them. This is a critical area, because in a situation of unstable social moods it can lead to radicalisation of solutions. Today it has become a fact that countries influence the social moods of other countries through social media. Hybrid activities are subject not only to politics, but also to social movements, which may become a catalyst for negative regulatory and legal changes.
Today the concept of circular economy is an idea that combines the growing supply of waste with the growing demand for raw materials. In this situation, communication will play one of the key roles, thanks to its potential to combine cross-sectoral, disciplinary and statutory objectives of all stakeholders.