NEW YORK, Feb. 15, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Newsweek today released the results of a new report on the circular economy from their Vantage Thought Leadership division.
The report, entitled "Going Circular: How Global Business is Embracing the Circular Economy" is based on a survey of more than 300 senior executives from major corporations, plus 25 in-depth interviews with business leaders, innovators and experts.
The aim of the circular economy is to keep goods and materials in use for as long as possible to curb extraction, pollution and waste. It is seen as an essential tool in the fight against climate change as well as other challenges including resource scarcity and marine litter.
Newsweek Vantage research also found that circularity benefits go beyond meeting sustainability goals, with access to new markets, enhanced competitiveness and increased revenues among the key advantages cited. Overall, 95% of respondents, who spanned various industries and functions, said they thought a transition to a circular economy would be beneficial to their organization and 30% said their companies already have circularity goals.
Key strategies that companies are adopting include redesigning products to require less materials and energy; shifting to product-as-a-service models which promote sharing and re-use; setting up product take-back and refurbishment schemes; recovering and re-purposing waste and by-products; and substituting finite materials for renewable ones.
The report argues that while the future of business may be circular, it is not something that happens overnight. It requires companies to rethink their products and business models and work across different units to identify opportunities, plug knowledge gaps and ensure incentives are aligned. It also calls for deeper collaboration with different parts of the supply chain and even with peers. Survey respondents said they expected a greater role from the scientific community and from finance to help develop and scale the necessary technologies, for governments to set the right incentives, and to collaborate or invest more in circular start-ups and local networks.
"We were surprised at just how quickly the concept seems to have taken off," said Katy Shields, report author. "There's a real sense of excitement and possibility. A major benefit appears to be the ability to marry commercial goals with sustainability ones, for example, by redesigning or remanufacturing products, which can dramatically curb inputs, energy and waste. A challenge is that certain aspects are still costly today—virgin plastics, for example, are often cheaper than recycled ones, and the cost of recovering products or materials can be a barrier. This is why companies we spoke with stressed the need to adopt a wide lens, looking beyond their specific industry for opportunities and working with different partners to achieve the necessary scale."
"It's exciting to pave the way and shed light on the future of the circular economy," said Dev Pragad, CEO of Newsweek. "Our research shows that there needs to be a stronger collaboration among corporate teams – from supply chain and finance to R&D and project leads."
The research is based on an anonymous survey of 317 senior executives (up to two levels below the C-suite) from companies with earnings of $500m and more, across a broad range of industries and split evenly across construction, manufacturing, retail and technology activities. Respondents mainly hailed from North America and Europe (42% each), with 16% from the rest-of-world. One quarter led sustainability or corporate social responsibility teams; the remainder held various functions including general management, technology, business development and procurement.
The report was independently researched and written by Newsweek Vantage with sponsorship from Autodesk, BASF, C&A Foundation and UL. Circle Economy and the World Business Council on Sustainable Development (WBCSD) were knowledge partners.
Note to editors
This report coincides with research announced at the World Economic Forum that estimates the global economy to be only 9.1% "circular" today. This means that most of what is extracted, made and used is dispersed either as pollution or unrecoverable waste—a loss both for the planet and companies' bottom lines. The Circularity Gap report is an annual report produced by impact organization Circle Economy.
About the sponsors
Autodesk makes software for people who make things—across the manufacturing, architecture, construction, media and entertainment industries, it gives people the power to make anything.
BASF creates chemistry for a sustainable future, combining economic success with environmental protection and social responsibility.
C&A Foundation is a corporate foundation here to transform the fashion industry.
UL fosters safe living and working conditions for people everywhere through the application of science to solve safety, security and sustainability challenges.
About Newsweek Vantage
Vantage is a new division of Newsweek that combines meticulous research and expert analysis to explore topics that are defining the global business environment.
Newsweek is the modern global digital news organization built around the iconic, 85-year-old American magazine. Newsweek reaches more than 30 million people each month with its thought-provoking news, opinion, images, graphics and video delivered across a dozen print and digital platforms. Headquartered in New York City, Newsweek also publishes international editions in EMEA and Asia.