Interview with WESLEY SPINDLER, Sustainability Strategy Director, Accenture

You are an advocate of the so-called circular economy. What is the difference between the traditional and the circular economy?
The traditional economic system in which we currently exist is linear, meaning we extract resources, use them, and then throw them away (or at best recycle). The circular economy reinvents this unsustainable ‘take, make, waste’ model by closing the loop and keeping resources in productive use in a ‘take, make, take, make’ system, while addressing some of our most pressing environmental challenges, as well as presenting significant financial value to organizations – $4.5 trillion by 2030.

How can an organization shift to a circular business model?
The extent of the transformation required to shift to a circular economy varies based on industry and organizational characteristics. Overall, however, each organization has a role to play in the transition – companies should take a multidimensional view on the transition, embedding circularity across their operations, products & service portfolios, culture & organization, and how they work and collaborate with the wider ecosystem.

How can new technologies help with the transformation to a circular business?
Disruptive technologies, across the digital, physical and biological spheres, are the most important enablers of the circular economy, and can be particularly powerful when deployed in combination. Due to rapid innovation, these technologies have the potential to decouple growth from resource use, for instance through enabling circular business models, through automation and increased efficiency, and through enhancing information transparency & traceability.

We need disruptive technologies to achieve a resilient and sustainable future for all. Technology can help address some of our most pressing environmental needs – such as supporting the energy transition and moving to a more circular economy.