The first time I was stunned by how ingenious circular economy can be, I was working at a waste plant. It was called a “recycling facility”, but in truth it was little more than a dump. One day two of the drivers dumping hazardous waste spoke to each other in the cue, waiting for their turn to dump their waste. The two driver’s soon realized that what one of them was dumping as waste, the other used as raw material. There and then, one person’s waste became the other person’s gold.
Understand your waste
Ever since that day I have tried to consider ways to replicate that amazing day. Circular economy is essentially a matter of understanding what goes into the production of your product, and what kind of waste and spillage that might come out of it. Take a close look at not only your waste items, but also items you value so little you can almost give it away. Then do your research in order to find companies that use these items as raw materials. Then engage with companies of that type in your local community.
Engage with your community for a circular economy
To find companies that might have your own raw materials as byproducts or waste is more tricky. The savvy entrepreneur will find ingenious solutions. The best way of doing this is to be part of, and create, a local business community. By surrounding and learning from your local community, not only will it be easier to support each other in times of need, you will also find opportunities for joint ventures. Opportunities will arise naturally.
The core of circular economy is a vibrant local business community, where people help each other to succeed. And it might be connections not immediately apparent. For example, the artist can open his gallery which will attract people for the nearby café. A bus driver can arrange tours to the gallery from a nearby city, with a stop at the café etc.
The byproduct of engaging the community is that it gives you a sense of common goals. The community as a whole grows and become more vibrant. The restaurant will support local farmers, the farmers support the artists, the artists draw people to the restaurant. As the community and the circle of influence grows, so will the shared success. You slaughter the whole pig, so to speak, minimizing any waste by using all the parts.
For a good example of how circular economy works in practice. Please check out our previous blog post about Sustainable circular economy in Aland.