Circular Economy, Conferences

Summary of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation 2018 Circular Economy Summit


The overarching theme this year was how can technology accelerate the shift from a “line to a circle” (Linear to Circular). We heard from:

New Harvest – making meat but not as we know it.

Provenance – Using Blockchain to create supply chain transparency. Material becomes currency because you know the value and can see the value.
The Real Real  –  A NY – based online luxury goods consignment store with market with $700M in revenue after just 7 years. They are seeing a switch buying habits to people buying things that have a better resale price. They are the antidote to fast fashion as quality luxury goods have a second, third and fourth life. They will be the first billion dollar Circular Economy company.

Estonia – The country boasts an “invisible” Government. Embracing technology including Blockchain, citizens can vote from their mobile phones and can complete tax returns in under a minute. Since 2012 all citizen’s details are on a closed Blockchain and kept decentralised across 2000 locations. No one location knows all the information.
And Citizens can see who has been looking at their data. Meanwhile in Australia, I need a utility bill to prove my identity. (#CuttingEdge)

Estonia will be paperless in 10 years. They are also  working on AI policy and using algorithms to rework legal / insurance frameworks. One consideration is: “does AI get their own separate legal entity?”. In 4 years, AI will be fully implemented and that will see a 50% reduction in civil servants and they are all happy with that as they know other employment opportunities will emerge. Contrast that to Germany where civil servants are still guaranteed lifetime employment.

The shift has got little to do with technology. It is culture and mindset. It’s about defining the relationship between citizens and the Govt, culture and mindset.

China – That massive country. They have embraced the Circular Economy since 1997. Their approach to the Circular Economy is fundamentally different to the West as they started 10 years earlier and started in the middle of their Industrial Revolution compared to the Developed World where the damage has been wholly done.
The developed world pollutes first and then looks for clean up solutions. In China, they do not want to pollute in the first place. In their recently announced 13th 5 year plan (gotta love a planned economy), their Circular Economy priorities are:

(1) Bio-design of products – upstream
(2) Extended Producer Responsibility – downstream

Two unrelated random facts of the day: 
(1) 50% of Facebook’s workforce earn more than $240K pa while California has the highest incidence of poverty in the US.
(2) Fortnite, the game every adolescent around the globe is playing is pulling down $300 million profit every month!

It was another great summit with some really good connections made.

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