Article on Circular Economy for The Guardian

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CONTEXT

Article on ‘The top three obstacles for policymakers in moving towards a circular economy’ for The Guardian co-authored with Mark Esposito, professor of economic strategy at Harvard Extension School and Grenoble School of Management and Terence Tse is associate professor of finance at ESCP Europe Business School.

‘Policymakers need to be prepared for resistance from existing business, the rebound effect and product obsolescence. ‘

We waste much of everything. Research in Europe on consumption habits provides statistics that show how often the resources we have end up wasted. For instance, in tonnage terms, only 40% of rubbish (pdf) in Europe is recycled. Not only this, but waste doesn’t consist only of the remainder of what is consumed, waste also exists in the way we use our resources. The researchers found that cars in Europe are parked 92% of the time, and offices are used only 35-40% during working hours. With this knowledge in hand, the opportunity for new efficiencies across all industries and consumer lifestyles is greater than ever. (…)

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Given the fact that consumers have the tendency to replace products prematurely, a tendency which has been greatly promoted by various marketing practices, there is a need to influence businesses to prevent, or at least postpone perceived product obsolescence. It is also important to alter consumers’ perceptions of obsolescence, so the average longevity of products can be prolonged.

While the above may come across as idealistic, the current policies set forth by the European Commission seem to be truly supportive of a circular economy and might even become Europe’s primary policy agenda. Who knows, this time we may truly make it happen.

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Read our full article here.

Mark Esposito is professor of economic strategy at Harvard Extension School and Grenoble School of Management, Terence Tse is associate professor of finance at ESCP Europe Business School and Greta Seeger is co-create lead at Philips Design.