Closed loop society could be ‘just a decade away’

A circular economy where waste considerations are built into the lifecycle of product manufacture could be a reality within 10 years, a leading eco-designer has claimed.

Mark Shayler, founder of environmental consultancy Tickety Boo, believes that as consumer brands start to re-examine their business models in a bid to address sustainable consumption, their focus will naturally shift towards closed loop operations.

In an exclusive interview with edie, Shayler said the advent of lifecycle initiatives like individual producer responsibility would be instrumental in delivering this circular resource flow through better product design.

“I think we’ll see a circular economy within the next 10 years,” he said. “We may not see it in everything we do, but we’ll see it in a whole load of consumer products, packaging, food and electronics.”

Shayler added that within society, a strong counter-culture movement was growing “of being happy with less” and seeking simplicity in terms of lifestyle choice.

“The whole drive towards simple living, we see this emerging in lots of different ways … it’s happening. Unfortunately business models are built around selling people things, not experiences, and that’s got to change.

“There aren’t any businesses that are saying ‘lease our products, pay us a fee, we’ll make you happy without you having to own our things’ – and that is a massive barrier. That’s what we really need to challenge.”

According to Shayler, a circular economy would create huge opportunities for companies that offer product-service models underpinned by reuse and refurb, rather than recycling or disposal.

“It takes a very brave company to say ‘consume differently’ … but that’s a really important missing piece of the jigsaw at the moment,” he added.

The full interview with Mark Shayler, which took place at SustainabilityLive! 2012 last week in Birmingham, can be listened to in the podcast below.

Maxine Perella

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