It is almost consensual that we are endangering the future of society if we maintain the same behaviours towards planet earth as specifically observed in recent decades.

Let’s have a closer look at climate change. With particular focus on Portugal, it is clear that our country can change dramatically in half a century due to climate change, making it more deserted, affecting beaches, agriculture, fishing and even the wine industry, as Rajendra Pachauri, economist and engineer, warned us in 2018.

Over 2 million years ago, humans were fed by harvesting plants and hunting animals, but all that changed about 10,000 years ago when we developed from hunter-gatherers to farmers.

The agricultural revolution was a radical transformation to sustain human beings, however, often without respecting our planet. Later on, the first industrial revolution (the linear economy model, which is still dominating today) was established and followed the flow commonly described as “Take, Make, Use, Waste”.

Mega cities, population growth, climate change, changes in economic power and technological advances are changing the way organizations and society interact. It is, therefore, a necessary step to change the economic model if we are to leave the next generations with a better planet than the one we are experiencing. But, do we still have time?

KAIZEN™ and the Circular Economy will play a fundamental role in the future of society. The concept of Circular Economy follows a closed loop described as “Take, Make, Use, Reuse/Recycle”. This approach is intended to dramatically increase the life-cycle of items around us and is already being put in place worldwide, going beyond sustainability agendas. Circular Economics highlights the importance of extending the useful life of goods as long as possible, and the current examples are already striking, even from the point of view of wealth creation for organizations.

Looking into the case of Corticeira Amorim, the largest producer of cork products globally, their cork oak plantations are renewable resources with continual environmental, economic and social benefits. Everything starts in the cork oak plantation, a tree with key features for the preservation of 1 of the 36 world ecosystems; it is estimated that, for each ton of cork produced, the cork forests capture more than 73 tons of CO2.

The Corticeira Amorim production process displays the Lavoisier principle; the conservation of mass. Nothing is lost, everything is transformed and at the end of the value chain, the remaining dust is even used as fuel. Thus, in terms of CO2 emissions, it is estimated that each cork saves everything that is spent on the remaining processes to obtain a bottle of wine on the table.

The sports brand Adidas already embraces the principles of Circular Economy in its partnership with Parley for the Oceans, an environmental organization that fights against the threats caused by plastic pollution in the oceans. In 2018 Adidas sold 5 million pairs of Parley shoes made from ocean plastic and announced they will produce 11 million pairs by 2019.

Proctor & Gamble produces bottles for Fairy detergents made from recycled plastic and ocean plastic, and many other examples exist in various sectors of the economy.

In summary, it is time for society to embrace its responsibility as a global community and to create supply chains that support circular business models for the sake of our planet and future generations.

First published in Forbes

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