Your project is not concerned by the circular economy? Don’t get me wrong!

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Published by Margaux Burton et Pierre Gillet

Are you a project founder or an entrepreneur in Brussels? Are you interested in the sustainable economy but you believe your project is not concern about it? Here are some explanations to help you understand the topic!

Several years of experience in supporting circular projects have led to the conclusion that many project founders exclude themselves from the paradigm of circularity, because of modesty or lack of information.

Companies that are ambassadors of the circular economy are very often linked to the (re)valorisation of a material flow (clothing, glass, plastic, coffee grounds, cigarette butts, bricks, etc.). Indeed, the circular economy has been able to benefit from examples of exchanges of material or energy flows from the Kalundborg symbiosis in Denmark to the revaluation of coffee grounds thanks to Permafungi, or the famous circular jeans of Mud Jeans. These various projects have enabled the general public to understand the principles of the circular economy, but will also have the effect of limiting it to “Zero waste”. In other words, this phenomenon can lead to reflections such as: “I am interested in the circular economy, but unfortunately, my project has nothing to do with recycling”.

In addition to commercial or HoReCa projects, Brussels’ support structures for business creation frequently meet project founders whose economic model depends on a service. Among them, graphic designers, web designers, commercials, artists or consultants who are not to be excluded from support programs, incubators or subsidies in circular economy. On the contrary, they represent a large part of the economic fabric of Brussels, composed mainly of services. The stakes of this integration are therefore high, and two theoretical notions support this position:

  1. A company is never circular if it operates in a vacuum. It is really important to consider its ecosystem, and to become aware of the interactions with the different types of actors. Different tools exist to understand its ecosystem (the “value network”). Circularity aims to understand the company in its relationship with the customer, supplier, logistics, employees, local authorities and other companies. In summary, any project, regardless of its economic model, can integrate circular economy strategies.
  2. The circular economy aims to rethink the value chain as opposed to the linear economy. However, this value is not only material or financial. Other types of value make up an economic model: information flows, trust between stakeholders, social or environmental value. Mapping these values will help you to perceive the links between your project and the circular economy; you will consider other ways to create value.

Conclusion

Each project, regardless of its economic model, has the potential to integrate the circular economy. To do this, many methodologies are at your disposal. It is sometimes difficult to know how to get started, where to start. Feel free to participate in training courses to be guided in your journey towards the circular economy.