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.

Conferences, Cradle to Cradle, Ellen MacArthur Foundation

First week down in London

Last week was jam packed full of meetings. And there were tailwinds for us too. The UK Government announced significant funding to end single-use plastic waste, Sky (yes, Murdoch's outfit) announced their own funding to support new technologies to end ocean plastic waste and the full impact of China's ban on importing recyclables from around the world is now starting to hit home. And it's not pretty as stockpiles of waste start accumulating. 

We started north of London at Cranfield University and their Graduate students who are working with us on our gCycle business modelling. 

CU Sign 1

I like to call it Strategery…

CU Sign 1

We met with Milton Keynes council to figure out their nappy waste issues. Note the sustenance we offered from Australia. 

CU Sign 1

Kim got all MBA like on us and started writing stuff on the white board. Really hope she didn't use a permanent marker!

CU Sign 1

And we finished off with a Pub dinner. 

We then headed due west, nearly running into Wales to meet our engineering partners.  We have co-designed some great kit to make resources from dirty nappies. As a Bachelor of Arts graduate I did my very best to look informed and in-the-know as we saw machines whirr. I nodded heaps. 

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Again, note the nutrition we brought to the table…

Then we headed South East and spent an afternoon with gTeam member Steph. A shocking hair day for me. Unforgivable really. 

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It wasn't all work.

Completely coincidentally I ran into a Mum of one of my son's best mates at a cafe in Chelsea. We also met up with my brother, hit a pub with our fabulous friend Tom who is putting us up and thanks to the power of social media, spent Friday night at an impromptu dinner party with old friends from Portland, Oregon and others all in the impact investing space. A remarkable group and much fun. 

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Just bumping into friends on the other side of the globe. 

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Mini family reunion. 

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Portland Reunion in London. 

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After work Pub time. 

Then the weekend hit and we headed to the Continent to meet up with the kids (a much longer story for later) and then headed to a conference in Germany on all things Cradle to Cradle & Circular. More updates to come!


Conferences, Stories from the trenches

Best part about Chicago…



…was having dinner with Heather & Lindsey – two great Mums who are a part of our gMum program. We had a great feed at Customs House and got to know each other some. They had never met each other but they are both embarking on building a green home – quite the undertaking! So now they have one more thing in common. All up a great trip to a city that is way greener than I had expected.

Conferences, Eco-entrepreneur, Entrepreneur, Green Business, Sustainable Business

Martha, martha, martha…

ImagesLast Friday, right before Green Fest started, Josh Dorfman – the Lazy Environmentalist appeared on Martha Stewart to show her some new groovy green products. And he was good enought to give gDiapers a big plug which was just superb. With three of us in Chicago, the phones at gHQ lit up for most of the day keeping Sue, Kim and Schooey on their toes! Needless to say we broke a few web sales records. Josh did a great job of really showing how the product works. So we think the interest we receieved was well qualified. Josh’s book is being launched next month. His other passion, is his furniture store Vivavi featuring beautiful, sustainably built pieces.

Conferences, Eco-entrepreneur, Entrepreneur, Green Business, Stories from the trenches, Sustainable Business

Chicago Green Business Conference 2007 (2)

Headergreencalogo_2 The conference organisers, Alisa Gravitz & Denise Hamler are brilliant at forcing networking upon the group. Somehow even the quietest wallflower ends up meeting a ton of people through speed networking and other activities. They are quite brilliant.
So in no time I had met and ate and partied with some great new people. All good friendships start at the bar (serving organic beer no less) Evan from Food for Thought was wearing a New Zealand America’s Cup sweatshirt so I thought I better make sure he wasn’t a kiwi, otherwise there wouldv’e been sauce on the floor…He wasn’t and he is a mad sailor so instant mateship. He was with his colleague Tim and then there were three. Evan & Tim are in the jam business and have the first Fair Trade certified spreads. Then Craig joined us. He is launching an online affiliate program with a twist and he races cars, so we essentially had a blokes dream team – sailing, fast cars and beer (and sustainable business interests). Then Jody, Evan & Tim’s organic coffee company mate joined. OK, so we lost the boys club but that’s OK. Then Rebecca from Green Clean rocked up and now we were five. Then Tara decided to come over for a yarn. She is launching a new green business. We coached her a little and she has smartly decided to discard the URL “” and go for “” – it has a softer edge…
So with a crew of six, it was dinner time. We ended up at a great Japanese hole in the wall with four more ring -ins including Mimi and her son from Grocer’s Daughter Chocolate (good rule of thumb, always hang close to chocolate makers at these conferences…) and Leif Utne who is the Publisher of World Changing and is the son of the Utne’s of Utne Reader fame. So after some gyoza and edamame, we discovered that amongst us, there were no less than three folks who had adopted little ones – from the US, Guatemalas and Korea and a fourth writing a book about adoption. I felt like the third wheel. After beer and sake we were instant mates and it was nye nye time.

Conferences, Eco-entrepreneur, Entrepreneur, Start-up business, Stories from the trenches, Sustainable Business

Chicago Green Business Conference 2007 (1)

Headergreencalogo I am in the windy city for a terrific 3 day conference on green business. The luminaries of the industry are here – Michael Crooke – ex CEO of Patagonia, Jeffrey Hollender of 7th Gen, Ray Anderson the king of cradle to cradle with is innovative carpet business and many more. Also good talks from the folks at LOHAS, giving us a sense of the fast growth of the sustainable business sector. Joel Makower, a prolific green blogger and author gave a thought provoking presentation on the business of green business. The data he presented is indeed the data that has not budged a whole lot in 15+ years – US consumers are aware of organic and sustainable but the percentage of consumers who actually change their behaviour is still extraordinarily low. This was somewhat of a buzz kill after a rah rah day but there you have it. The very next day on the front page of USA Today was a piece supporting that thesis with the headline: “Doing right thing isn’t easy, even for those who want to: Green living takes roots but habits die hard”.

Conferences, Eco-entrepreneur, Entrepreneur, Green Business, Start-up business, Sustainable Business

Mc Screamy

Images_78 While our mates over at Seventh Generation had a party hard 3 days at Expo East last week (Jeffrey Hollender, their CEO is proposing to nix the booth next year and rent a party space for the duration), we at “g” had no less than 2 pregnant staffers on board, Kato and Schooner. On their feet for 24 hours talking gDiapers, they were absolute troopers. So at 6pm each day when it was time to pack up, while most went to the industry shin digs, we all happily headed back to Fawlty Towers for some R&R and the mandatory episode of McDreamy. Kato and Schooner are massive fans. But alas, we got the time wrong by an hour and not even multiple attempts to download the show from could save us. So tragically Neal and I – Grey’s Anatomy virgins, still have no clue who McDreamy or McSteamy are.


Earth Day Weekend

Greenposter We (wife, 2 sons, sans dog) are in LA this weekend with PR Kate and Customer Service Michelle for the very first Whole Children Whole Planet expo – an expo all about natural parenting. Something close to our hearts. Should be a good one: Parents who get what we are trying to do and a touch of Hollywood with some celebs doing stuff.


“Expo Uncovered”

Images2_2 So sure our mission at Expo West is to interest buyers, write orders, get PR, make sure our brokers are all set to sell the product. But the real aim for me and the gCrew is to make a start on a blockbuster new doco – “Expo Uncovered”. We are in Disneyland after all…
It’s all about those pretty young things – the sales boys and girls who are uncommonly attractive but perhaps are not quite on message when it comes to all things “organic”. They work with products like the ‘Hollywood Diet” and protein powder. They are terrifyingly fit but maybe chemically enhanced.
They man the booth all day and then hit it hard all night with the industry parties on offer. They make some “sub optimal”, alcohol fueled decisions in the mating stakes, awake in a Hotel 6 zip codes away from the convention center, quickly review the situation, possibly gnaw their own arm off and hurriedly head back to the Expo for a 10am kick off. They do the walk of shame straight to Starbucks and the freebie samples of every organic food ever made (a nice perk) before 8 hours of sell, sell, sell before the next big post match function. PR/ Marketing Kate and I witnessed it at Expo East 6 months ago. We started casting today but were simply overwhelmed with choice. Sad that we parents couldn’t get past 9pm at tonight’s Organic Trade Association dinner!