Listed below are The Circulars 2015 Finalists, who were honoured at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2015. To view the Finalists, Winners and Runner Ups of The Circulars 2016, click here.
CEO and Chairman of DSM
Feike Sijbesma, is CEO and Chairman of DSM, a global company active in the areas of health, nutrition and materials. His vision is to change conventions and ensure new technologies can work sustainably and effectively. Sijbesma’s thinking is reflected in the way DSM works. Over the years, the company has invested in research to use CO2— instead of oil, coal and gas—as a starting material for energy products. DSM has also developed a model to convert agricultural waste into energy. Sijbesma has been a part of and chaired a variety of panels for the circular economy sessions at the World Economic Forum in Davos. His aim is to push the circular economy to a higher level within the Davos agenda, the UN Conference on Climate Change, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the newly-formed Circular Economy Foundation in the Netherlands, which will focus on pursuing circular economy goals within business, government and civil society.
CEO and Chairman of the Board of Management and Executive Committee, Philips
Frans van Houten, is CEO and Chairman of Philips. Recognizing that innovation is a critical driving force for the circular economy, van Houten initiated a major transformation program across the company in 2011, setting out a new vision centered on innovation. The objective: to convert the global electronics multinational’s business model from linear to circular. He also championed investment in staff and external partnerships with the aim of embedding circular principles within the organization. As a result of these initiatives, two business units—lighting and healthcare—have already commercialized circular offerings. In the consumer space, Philips plans to reintroduce products designed to last and be repaired to extend life. Externally, van Houten is a strong advocate of the circular economy, evangelizing its benefits through online thought leadership pieces and appearances at global forums organized by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, World Economic Forum and European Parliament.
Chief Sustainability Officer and VP of the Innovation Accelerator, Nike
Hannah Jones is NIKE, Inc.'s Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) and VP of the Innovation Accelerator. As CSO, Hannah leads Nike's efforts to decouple growth from constrained resources through innovation that revolutionizes materials, methods of make, products and business models to solve complex sustainability challenges. As VP of Nike's Innovation Accelerator, Hannah shepherds a dynamic team designed to help innovation move smarter and faster via portfolio analytics, strategic partnerships, rapid piloting and innovation strategy. Hannah was a founding member of the business advisory council to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). From 2007-2010 she chaired the Sustainable Consumption initiative for the Consumer Industries grouping of the World Economic Forum and was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in January 2007. Fast Company has twice named Hannah to its Most Creative People list, and in 2013, she was awarded the C.K. Prahalad Award for Global Business Sustainability Leadership. Hannah is a board member of the Ecover and Method Brands.
European Commissioner for Environment 2009-2014
Janez Potočnik, is a Slovenian politician who served for five years as European Commissioner for Environment until October 31, 2014. He brought together CEOs, politicians, civil society and researchers to develop a policy roadmap for resource efficiency. His efforts culminated in the European Commission adopting a common and coherent framework to promote the circular economy. As part of the circular economy package, the European Commission also adopted a legislative proposal to review recycling and other waste-related targets in the European Union. Potočnik has been a tireless champion of circular economy models among businesses and policymakers, encouraging their adoption as common ground for action. He has put resource efficiency and the circular economy on the agenda of meetings of national ministers within Europe, and advocated them in New York as an important pillar of future UN Sustainable Development Goals. In September 2013, he received the UN Champion of the Earth Award.
President & CEO, Novozymes
Peder Holk Nielsen, is President and CEO of Novozymes, a global biotechnology company headquartered in Copenhagen. As the world’s largest producer of industrial enzymes, Novozymes collaborates with its global partners to develop advanced biofuels. The company aims to save 75 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions with the use of advanced technologies by next year. Nielsen has been a strong proponent—within his company and among policymakers, customers and the wider business community—of leveraging partnerships to unlock innovation opportunities. He has spoken at several international forums, including the UN Conference on Climate Change, on the need to decouple economic growth from carbon emissions, environmental impact and the use of raw materials. Nielsen advocates incentivizing change by using facts to demonstrate the long-term rewards of adopting a circular approach. He believes companies that integrate commercial priorities and strategies with environmental and socioeconomic objectives will be the winners of tomorrow.
Group Chief Executive, Kingfisher plc
Sir Ian Cheshire, was the CEO of Kingfisher between January 2008 and December 2014, Europe’s largest home improvement retailer. Sir Ian’s vision and leadership has driven Net Positive, Kingfisher’s restorative approach to doing business, which aims to make a positive contribution to people and the environment, while growing a stronger, more profitable business. Circular economy and closed-loop principles are firmly embedded within Net Positive. Sir Ian has used his voice as a business leader to motivate others to adopt a more circular approach. He has done so by advocating the value proposition to business—that it affords businesses lucrative opportunities now and in the future to cut resource dependence, energy use and costs while creating new avenues of income. He has challenged both the U.K. Government and the European Union to rethink policy to create an environment that will enable a quicker transition to a more circular economy.
Founder & Director of the Product-Life Institute
Walter R. Stahel, is Founder-Director of the Product-Life Institute, a not-for-profit consulting organization devoted to developing sustainable strategies and policies. Stahel is an accomplished circular economy pioneer and has been an active proponent of circular thinking since the 1970s. His point of view is that in a circular economy, waste managers become resource managers and must move up the value preservation chain. Stahel has written several papers, spoken at conferences all over the world, been nominated for multiple awards, taught at universities in the U.K. and Japan, and worked as a consultant developing and designing sustainable solutions. Stahel founded The Geneva-based Product-Life Institute in 1983. In 2010, he published a second edition of his book The Performance Economy, in which he argues that the real lever to move the circular economy forward is sustainable taxation, and accepting that human labor is a renewable resource.
Based in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, Dutch aWEARness is a textile company that has adopted circular economy principles across its supply chain to create a unique solution and service model for work wear. The company’s disruptive manufacturing process for garments includes incorporating reuse at the design stage, an improved recall process for worn garments, and the development of recycling technologies and infrastructure. All Dutch aWEARness work wear is 100 percent recyclable. By decomposing the fabric to its elementary fibers and weaving them again, the company has reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 73 percent, waste by 100 percent, water usage by 95 percent and energy usage by 64 percent. The company also has an “accessibility-based” business model, wherein clients don’t own but use the clothing when required. Additionally, clients are offered services that include track and trace management, as well as washing and repair. Users pay a fee for the service as opposed to buying the garment.watch video visit website
EcoTech Recycling is an Israeli company that uses patented technology to transform waste rubber into industrial rubber—a commodity that is widely used by multiple industries. EcoTech’s process overcomes obstacles in existing recycling methods that result in high costs and reduced quality. EcoTech uses a process that converts recycled rubber into a proprietary powder that is transformed into rubber. This conversion process has zero emissions. EcoTech helps cut carbon dioxide emissions by reducing the amount of rubber waste that is burnt for disposal and avoiding the production of new rubber. Compared to synthetic rubber manufacturers, EcoTech produces rubber at 300 percent lower cost and maintains profitability despite fluctuations in the commodity market. The company works with local waste rubber/tire collectors by providing them a clean and profitable way to dispose waste rubber. EcoTech's manufacturing design enables scaling with actual growth to match the needs of the local market.watch video visit website
Ecovative is a biomaterials company based in Green Island, New York. The company is a global leader in using living organisms, including fungi such as mushrooms, to develop high performance, natural biocomposite materials. Evocative’s sustainable material platform is helping companies replace materials from plastic foams to particleboards that end up in landfills with environmentally responsible alternatives. With a foundation in biology and engineering, Ecovative produces biocomposites that compete on cost and performance with environmentally harmful materials such as plastics and foams. Rather than use high-embodied energy processes and finite resources to manufacture materials in unsafe conditions, Ecovative’s Mushroom Materials take advantage of regionally sourced agricultural waste to grow the biological resin that binds the desired product in a self-assembling process. True to circular economy principles, Ecovative is helping to build a sustainable future through its disruptive Mushroom Materials.watch video visit website
LanzaTech, which is based in Skokie, Illinois, designs and develops alternative fuel and chemical solutions, turning waste carbon into an opportunity, rather than a liability. The company’s gas-to-liquid platform uses proprietary microbes to ferment carbon-rich waste gases, such as those from industrial flue stacks, to produce liquid fuels and chemicals. LanzaTech is helping to open up vast new resources for the production of low-carbon chemicals and fuels that can displace petroleum without the environmental concerns associated with crop- and land-based bioproducts. The company has the potential to disrupt the petroleum-based energy system by enabling regional production of low-cost, energy from local waste and residues. LanzaTech has demonstrated circular economy principles through its focus on reusing carbon from waste streams, in the breadth of resources it can utilize and the array of low-carbon products it can make.watch video visit website
Based in San Francisco, method is a pioneer in premium, environmentally-conscious and design-driven home care, fabric care and personal care products. The company has a product development engine built on circular economy principles to ensure that all its products are sustainable. This includes using materials that can be infinitely recycled in technological and biological cycles, using renewable sources of energy, producing clean water and practicing social fairness. The company’s products and processes have brought about innovations that have saved millions of tons of waste, eliminated countless toxic chemicals from homes, and reduced the carbon footprint of ordinary household products by more than a third. method currently has over 80 products that are “Cradle-to- Cradle” certified at the Gold level. The company is also building the first LEED Platinum certified manufacturing facility in the industry, which will be carbon neutral, water neutral, and landfill free. It will be powered by 800kW of on-site solar and wind energy.watch video visit website
Based in Northampton, in the U.K., Olleco transforms food industry waste into valuable, renewable fuel and resources. The company collects food waste, diverting it from landfills, and used cooking oil from households, pubs, hotels, food manufacturers, retailers and restaurants and converts it into biogas and biodiesel—which is returned to customers for use. In less than seven years, it has built a base of 50,000 customers across the U.K. Olleco has generated 16 million liters of biodiesel from used cooking oils. In addition to powering customer vehicles across the U.K., the biodiesel has enabled greenhouse gas emission savings of over 90 percent. Similarly, the company’s food waste collection has diverted 30,000 tons of food waste from landfills every year, resulting in approximately 22,500 tons in CO2 savings. Taking the company a step closer to achieving 100 percent resource recovery in the food industry, Olleco recently built an anaerobic digestion plant to generate 1 Mwh of renewable energy for its biodiesel plant.watch video visit website
Waste Capital Partners is a San Francisco-based startup that has developed a “table-to-farm” approach to tackle the unprecedented growth in solid waste generated and largely untreated in emerging markets. Using this approach, 80 percent of organic waste is composted into soil conditioner and sold to farmers, thereby reducing waste, lowering emissions and replenishing soil that suffers from chemical fertilizer overuse. Not only does this approach demonstrate circular thinking, but by economically incentivizing waste collection it is also disruptive. The Waste Capital Partners’ business model requires municipalities to provide land, buildings and waste processing equipment under a multi-year contract with the company. In return, Waste Capital Partners provides waste management services, including training of municipality and contractor staff to separate waste collected at the source. The company covers its operating expenses through the sale of compost and recyclables. With no money exchanged, contract negotiations take only three months. The table-to-farm model is fully scalable and customizable across emerging economies.watch video visit website
London-based Balfour Beatty is a leading infrastructure group with more than 100 years of experience in delivering highly complex infrastructure projects. The company’s core geographic markets are the U.K. and U.S., and it has a significant presence in the Middle East and Southeast Asia. Balfour Beatty is committed to minimizing waste, optimizing material usage and delivering restorative construction solutions at every project—both on and off site. It adheres to circular economy principles by manufacturing to design, leading to efficient use of materials and a significant reduction in waste production, energy and water, both at the factory and at the installation site. Employees are trained to think in more circular terms to accelerate the use of circular processes, enabling clients to benefit from closed-loop project delivery. The company also collaborates with suppliers to identify better ways of working on site, and works closely with key clients to identify circular innovation opportunities.visit website
Dell provides technology products for the consumer, education, enterprise, and government sectors. Headquartered in Round Rock, Texas, it markets third-party software and hardware, and offers a range of IT services. The circular economy is an essential component of the company’s vision. From product design, packaging and shipping through recycling and reuse, Dell is finding ways to minimize its impact on the environment and communities. Dell implemented a major redesign across engineering, industrial design, procurement, logistics and marketing, resulting in the use of post-consumer recycled plastics in its products. Dell has also developed the OptiPlex 3030, the first computer made using certified closed-loop recycled plastics. Working in over 78 countries to help consumers find better ways to extend the life of their technology, Dell is also using its position as one of the leading global technology vendors to move standards, infrastructure and international policies toward a circular economy.watch video visit website
Based in Waalwijk, the Netherlands, Desso is one of Europe’s leading manufacturers of commercial carpets for the hospitality, marine and aviation markets. It is also a major provider of artificial turf and hybrid natural grass systems. Desso has almost 80 years of experience developing high-quality carpet tiles, broadloom and artificial grass pitches. The company has two factories and a major distribution center in Europe, as well as specialist customer service centers around the world. Since 2008, Desso set out a business case for going circular—a radical decision to move beyond sustainability in producing carpets and artificial grass. It signed a partnership agreement with the Hamburg-based Environmental Protection Encouragement Agency, becoming the first carpet manufacturer in Europe to adopt “Cradle to Cradle” principles, whereby products are made from components that are easy to disassemble in order to create new products. Today, Desso has C2C certified 90 percent of its carpet tiles.watch video visit website
Atlanta-based Novelis is a global leader in the manufacture of aluminum rolled semi-finished products used by the construction and industrial, foil products, transportation, and beverage and food can industries. In early 2011, Novelis set out to increase the recycled content in its products from 33 percent to 80 percent by 2020, making Novelis the world’s most sustainable aluminum company and closing the loop on global aluminum production and consumption. It aims to cut embedded carbon in its products in half and remove 10 million tons a year of carbon from customers’ supply chains. Novelis is on track to achieve 50 percent by 2015 and is focusing on continued innovation, business transformation and capacity investments to reach its 2020 goal. Thus far, Novelis has committed nearly US$500 million to increase the capacity of its recycling operations around the world. In 2012, it opened a new research center to improve recycling technology and develop new product design for recycling and sustainability.watch video visit website
French carmaker Renault, based in Boulogne-Billancourt, France, has manufacturing facilities in more than 15 countries and sells vehicles in 118 countries. Since 1995, Renault has implemented a policy aimed at reducing the environmental footprint of its products and has adopted a circular approach at a group level. In addition to its industrial-scale remanufacturing and incorporation of recycled plastic materials (remanufacturing has a turnover of US$248 million, and dismantling and material recycling has a turnover of US$460 million), Renault continues to innovate in new business areas. It has invested in a company specializing in the dismantling of end-of-life vehicles, coordinating a French network of 400 end-of-life vehicle processing companies. Renault is the first carmaker to enter electric battery leasing and has a car-sharing industrialization, design and sales development partnership. Renault has also switched from product purchase to service provision for the cutting oils used on the shop floor.watch video visit website
Bundles is a crowd-funded startup based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, that provides Internet-connected washing machines to customers, who pay per use. Bundles brings together manufacturing, energy monitoring, data analytics and customer relationship companies to create an interdependent ecosystem with potential benefits for each participant. Using a smartplug attached to the washing machine that sends usage data to the cloud, Bundles monitors use, identifies patterns and predicts the need for service or repair. These insights enable Bundles to help its customers achieve a better laundry performance while cutting energy, water and detergent use. With access to usage data, manufacturers are incentivized to use more recyclable materials in their products and apply remanufacturing principles to cut wastage. As customers pay for clean laundry—not for a washing machine—a standardized appliance with fewer features distributed directly reduces inventories, logistics and sales cost. Bundles also reduces service and replacement by ensuring optimum use of the appliance.watch video visit website
Innoverne is a technology-driven startup that delivers circular commerce and closed-loop solutions for the automotive sector. It is based in Reading, in the U.K. Innoverne’s technology platforms help businesses weave together emerging practices such as product-as-a-service, collaborative consumption, and hire and loan, while supporting recycling and remanufacturing. This approach differs from competitors, who typically have “ownership” business models, and sell tools and machinery. Innoverne’s solutions reduce the cost of financing automotive tools and equipment by maximizing the availability and utilization of the smallest possible number of assets, while ensuring that commercial ecosystems throughout individual value chains have the equipment they need anywhere within their network to meet customer needs. As a result, asset inventories have been reduced by 97 percent and freight logistics by 80 percent. What’s more, the company’s circular commerce platform helps customers drive out 70-80 percent in costs a year, compared to linear equivalents.watch video visit website
San Francisco-based Lyft’s peer-to-peer platform enables those with a personal vehicle to provide rides to people traveling to the same destination. Launched in 2012, the company’s mobile application covers approximately 70 cities, delivering more than 2 million paid rides each month. More than 100,000 people are approved to drive for Lyft, providing a safe and affordable transportation choice in underserved areas. Lyft’s ridesharing model helps address two major challenges in urban transportation. First, 80 percent of seats on roads go unused every day. Second, car ownership is the second highest household expense for families. Lyft uses existing information infrastructure to fill those empty seats, reducing the need to own a vehicle and helping to decongest roads. Lyft aims to improve daily commutes and eliminate traffic, thereby contributing to CO2 reduction, improved air quality and better transportation planning. Lyft also promotes community in cities thanks to the new connections that result from shared rides.visit website
ParkFlyRent is a Dutch car rental company with one important difference: it owns no vehicles. Disrupting the traditional industry model, the company rents out cars parked by outbound travelers at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport. In return, car owners receive free parking and a car wash, as well as a quarter of the rental proceeds. Inbound travelers can book a car online, have a wide choice of vehicles and save at least 25 percent compared to traditional car rental firms. On any given day, more than 15,000 cars sit idle in parking lots around Schiphol Airport, while car rental firms buy more than 9.000 new vehicles every year. ParkFlyRent says every 14 people that use its service to park their vehicles reduces the requirement of traditional rental firms by one car. ParkFlyRent is now rolling out a corporate program under which it will rent out company cars—both idle stock and cars parked at the airport by traveling executives.watch video visit website
Founded in Denmark, Tradeshift is a pioneer in cloud invoicing. Its global business-to-business platform helps companies run more efficiently, using cloud-based technology to improve processes like invoicing, workflow, supplier validation and supplier factoring. Since its inception, Tradeshift has connected more than 500,000 companies in 190 countries, with more than a third coming from emerging markets. The Tradeshift platform is open source, enabling third parties to build new applications on the platform, thus creating a whole new ecosystem on top of open business data. Tradeshift enables companies to transform their supply chains from a cost-based focus to a value-based approach. Given that a circular supply chain—with new kinds of inputs, new types of vendors and more real-time processes—is many times more complex than a linear supply chain, Tradeshift believes digitizing business transactions will be increasingly critical in the future.watch video visit website
Vandebron, a startup headquartered in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, has brought the sharing economy to green energy. The company’s website enables consumers to buy electricity directly from independent producers such as farmers with wind turbines in their fields. By cutting utilities out of the transaction, both producers and consumers benefit. Producers get a higher price per unit because they are no longer forced to accept what the utility offers. Consumers save as they do not pay the mark-up that utilities charge for passing on that power. Consumers can also choose from whom they want to buy energy, leading to greater transparency. Vandebron’s approach disrupts the traditional industry model, wherein utilities have an interest in selling more units. In contrast, Vandebron's interests are aligned with its customers—when customers save energy, it signs up more customers for each producer, thereby increasing its subscription fees. The service also makes the business case for investing in renewable energy even stronger.visit website
The Atlanta BeltLine is an internationally-awarded urban redevelopment and mobility project initiated by the City of Atlanta. Once completed by 2030, this project will deliver a new system of public trails, transit and parks along a historic 22-mile rail corridor circling downtown Atlanta and connecting more than 45 communities across the city and region. Circular in its approach, the Atlanta BeltLine is repurposing 22 miles of underutilized assets into a new framework for the region’s growth, cross-leveraging multiple sectors such as transit-oriented development, affordable housing, parkland and public spaces, and a vital expansion of the transportation network that will include light-rail. Additionally, innovative solutions are being employed for material reuse, brownfield remediation, rejuvenating water sources, landscaping, and for energy creation and usage. Environmental contributions include removal of contaminated soil, removal and recycling of rail and industrial artifacts and the replacement of contaminated lands with mature trees, native grasses and lakes.watch video visit website
With 5.6 million inhabitants, Denmark has been at the vanguard of nations adopting circular economy principles. The government of Denmark has shown its commitment to securing a sustainable future for its citizens by launching a strategic program: Denmark without Waste. Aimed at transforming policies, businesses and society, the program has several initiatives in place to encourage green business models, green technology, innovation funding, better regulation, favorable waste policies, as well as improved education and training. With ambitious targets such as recycling 50 percent of all household waste by 2022 and becoming independent of fossil fuels by 2015, Denmark is hoping to set the standard amongst nations in becoming a green and resource-efficient economy. These national initiatives are supplemented by initiatives at a regional level. The city of Copenhagen plans to become the first carbon-neutral capital by 2025. In 2011, Copenhagen had already reduced CO2 emissions by 21 percent compared to 2005.watch video visit website
In 2010, the U.K.’s Sunderland City Council decommissioned buildings across the city, resulting in a large number of assets such as furniture becoming redundant. The council joined an online reuse platform, Warp-it, which allows its staff to give, receive and loan surplus assets within and between organizations. The Sunderland Partnership, including the University of Sunderland and City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, brings together multiple organizations to improve the quality of life for local residents, recognized the potential benefits of the Warp-it scheme in developing a sharing network where members reduce costs and waste by swapping or loaning out resources such as office furniture, electrical goods, stationery and consumables. Members of the Sunderland Partnership, 360 schools and over 300 nonprofit organizations became members of Warp-it over the following year. The system now operates across the city, diverting 4,550 tons of waste from landfills and saving more than US$686,000 in procurement costs for the partners involved.watch video visit website
With a population of more than 7.3 million, New South Wales has Australia’s largest state economy, accounting for almost a third of the nation’s GDP. Sustainability Advantage is a unique industry/business partnership program launched by the New South Wales Government’s Office of Environment and Heritage. Sustainability Advantage has been recognized as an effective and strategic broker in the emerging circular economy, building bridges between unlikely collaborators and traditional competitors. It has created a circular community in which members can take advantage of the opportunities created by the circular economy. It also helps develop the business case for smarter technologies and processes that recover resources as renewable inputs for a more productive economy, often facilitating and accelerating their early adoption. In recent years, Sustainability Advantage’s support of circular economy projects has diverted more than 700,000 tons of waste from landfills, saving US$20 million, creating 79 jobs and leveraging almost US$40 million in infrastructure investment by the private sector.watch video visit website
The Western Cape Industrial Symbiosis Programme (WISP) was launched by the Western Cape Government of South Africa in April 2013. WISP is funded by provincial government and delivered by GreenCape, a not-for-profit sector development agency for the Green Economy. Industrial symbiosis is a resource efficiency approach that enables the productive use of companies’ unused or residual resources (e.g. materials, infrastructure, logistics, expertise). WISP’s team of facilitators provide dedicated capacity and technical expertise to help companies identify and progress these new business opportunities or “synergies”. WISP disrupts business models by transforming companies’ view of wastes to one of resources. This supports the development of circular systems within industry, diverting material from landfills and enabling resources to be returned to the economy. Since its inception, the WISP network has yielded impressive results in terms of waste diversion, reduction in fossil greenhouse gas emissions and economic benefits in excess of ZAR 7.5 million.watch video visit website
Sustained economic growth over the last half a century has led to high volumes of waste, placing a huge strain on Tokyo’s landfills. With limited landmass, it became imperative for Tokyo to reduce the volume of waste and find solutions for quick waste disposal. Tokyo has since made great strides in waste collection and management. The city has implemented several circular practices such as separating and recycling of waste, developing incineration plants with strict pollution standards that dispose of waste and supply heat to nearby facilities and conversion of ash into slag for use in construction work. As a result of these initiatives, Tokyo has seen a 95 percent reduction in waste volumes, 85 percent reduction in landfill volumes and revenues of US$12 million from selling slag and metals collected from waste. In 2011, Tokyo established the International Cooperation Division of Waste Management to share its skills and contribute to the advancement of waste management in other Asian countries.watch video visit website