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The circular economy: an economic model for the future?

Obernai, 30.10.2018

The circular economy: an economic model for the future? 


On September 28, Leo Johnson, our guest expert on sustainable development, projected his audience into the future at Trend Session #7 using four different economic models - exponential technologies, linear, post-linear and circular. Leo Johnson asked the question: Which model is future-proofed, in other words sustainable for the economy, the people and our planet? He used persuasive examples to show how it is becoming necessary for us to shift a linear - mass - economy to a sustainable - closed-loop approach.


Discover the video: The circular economy: a model for the future?



Leo Johnson‘s ‘Best-of’

  • “There’s narrow circular where you think inside the box. You think inside the particular sphere you’re operating in and you optimise within your sphere. But then there’s big circular. And I think what big circular looks at is a whole ecosystem and a whole society.”
  • “[This scenario] is a completely new world of hyper loops[1], of mega drones, of space travel, of abundant energy where energy efficiency probably disappears as a preoccupation because energy will be free in a stock scenario. But in a second scenario, energy sufficiency becomes crucial for mainstream businesses, why? Because suddenly, everything is very, very tight.”


[1] Hyperloop is an industrial research project launched in 2013 by Elon Musk. Originally, Hyperloop consisted of a raised double tube in which capsules carrying passengers and/or goods moved.


The circular economy: an economic model for the future?

"Extract, make, throw away": this is the principle of our linear economic system... And what if we could trade and produce based on a circular system in line with three main principles: preserve natural capital, optimise resources, eliminate adverse impacts? Service economy, sharing, cradle-to-cradle, industrial ecology, biomimicry, the blue economy: many companies have applied these concepts. And successfully! Explanations and specific examples will be offered during the talk.


What can a circular economy look like in concrete terms?

In a world where natural resources are becoming increasingly limited, we can imagine goods and services in a leasing system. This can also apply to equipment, cars, but also clothing, car mats or services. Rather than selling a product, we sell its use, its function. Recycling is considered from the product design phase. What happens to the product at the end of its life cycle? We recycle these materials. We (re)use recycled materials. They are available! Companies like Michelin, Drive and Away, Tata Motors or M-KOPA have already taken this on board.


To explore the future, we suggest that you:


By the way: On 15 November there will be a lecture on artificial intelligence from 13:00 to 14:30 (CET).


See you soon!



Speaker: Leo Johnson, expert in economics and sustainable development

Leo Johnson is an expert in sustainable development, and co-founder of Sustainable Finance (PwC). He advises more than 50 companies and banks. He specialises in identifying environmental and societal megatrends that offer business opportunities.