World Economic Forum embraces Cradle to Cradle methods for circular economy

The World Economic Forum (WEF) launched a major new business-led initiative at the Forum in Davos, Switzerland, entitled “Project Mainstream”, aimed at scaling up the circular economy. The new approach is substantively supported by Cradle to Cradle (C2C) scientific methods developed by Professor Michael Braungart and his teams at the C2C Chair at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) and his scientific institute EPEA.

With this initiative, the WEF, McKinsey & Company and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation call for a new approach to material flows in the circular economy. The circular economy refers to an industrial economy that is restorative by intention; aims to rely on renewable energy; minimises, tracks, and hopefully eliminates the use of toxic chemicals; and eradicates waste through careful design.

The project is accompanied by the WEF publication Towards the circular economy: accelerating the scale-up across global supply chains. It contains various references to C2C methods, tools and concepts, including the leasing concept already implemented by companies such as Philips, BB-Lightconcepts and Delta Development; additives optimisation implemented by companies such as Eastman Chemicals and Puma; and C2C take back systems pioneered by companies such as Tarkett and world-leading C2C company Desso.

"For years business asked us about the link between the circular economy and Cradle to Cradle," says Professor Michael Braungart, who holds the Academic Chair of Cradle to Cradle for Innovation and Quality at RSM. "The WEF publication and project describe a circular economy based on Cradle to Cradle methods for material management," he says.

"The job of the C2C Chair and EPEA is to get the science right so business can get the economics right, and in this sense it’s a perfect match," says Douglas Mulhall, a senior researcher at RSM and contributor to the WEF publication. “For example, Carlsberg, one of the largest brewing and beverage companies, announced its leadership role with the Carlsberg Circular Community. This organisation engages the largest suppliers of glass, metal, paperboard, pigments and coatings anywhere.”

Mulhall added that companies such as Carlsberg and governments that support the C2C Chair or work with EPEA are “superbly positioned to be frontrunners in this new WEF initiative.” He continued: “Our partners are central for the WEF work because most other WEF members have yet only minimal experience with the C2C up-cycling approach.”

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) is ranked among Europe’s top 10 business schools for education and among the top three for research. RSM provides ground-breaking research and education furthering excellence in all aspects of management and is based in the international port city of Rotterdam - a vital nexus of business, logistics and trade. RSM’s primary focus is on developing business leaders with international careers who carry their innovative mindset into a sustainable future thanks to a first-class range of bachelor, master, MBA, PhD and executive programmes. RSM also has offices in the Amsterdam Zuidas business district and in Taipei, Taiwan.

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