Friday, February 07, 2014

The Circular Economy is No Place for Whiners

Regulations aren’t designed to set the best standards, only the minimum bar for those who seek benefit at the expense of the general public.

It is typically those who are part of the “whiner” economy who make a fuss about regulations.  Everyone else cleared that regulatory bar long ago and strives instead for best practices.

One of those best practices is the movement toward the “circular economy,” as described in an article this month by McKinsey alum Markus Zils.  Those who fuss about regulations typically take more of a linear approach.

The circular approach is just better business.  It seeks to preserve the “embedded labor, material and capital costs.”  This is true of organic as well as technical materials.Screenshot 2014-02-06 09.01.42

It isn’t just about recycling by breaking down and reusing the products but also involves refurbishment.

The short term benefit is better profit margins but the long term benefit is a “decoupling of the economic growth from material intake.”

Often called the “triple bottom line” or “full-cost accounting,” the improvements aren’t just in manufacturing.  You saw it at work this week when CVS decided that selling tobacco didn’t make sense for a company in the business of providing healthcare services.

At the same time, undeterred by gridlock among nation states, fifty-nine mega-cities around the globe that have banded together to address climate change issued their annual report.

Even McDonald’s is moving toward more sustainable, antibiotic-free beef for its burgers, hopefully by 2016, a movement led many years ago in that food genre by Chipolte.

This even gives hope that marketers for the largest enabler of roadside billboards may one day connect the dots about the harm they are doing by enabling the sacrifice of the equivalent of a good size national forest as well as blighting neighborhoods and property values.

The marketplace likes sustainability.  A CDP report two months ago to inform investors, noted that nearly 30 of America’s largest global corporations - including five major oil companies - aren’t waiting for the U.S. Congress either.

They are incorporating a price for carbon emissions into their long range plans.  The free market isn’t ideological and “whiner” economics, relegated to seeking favors from lawmakers, just isn’t good business.

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