Desso, the European manufacturer of carpets and sports systems and the RSA held a debate on ‘Re-imagining Business: The Transition to the Circular Economy’ in the Great Room, RSA, 8 John Adam Street, London from 6.00pm to 7.30pm on October 12, 2011.
The event was well attended by a cross section of thought leaders and representatives from international businesses, all of whom where interested in hearing more about the collective benefits a move to a circular economy could bring. Desso’s CEO, Stef Kranendijk emphasised the importance and urgency to develop a circular economy as the world's insufficient and diminishing resources create ever greater difficulties. He talked about how the company is reinventing its business model according to the principles of Cradle to Cradle® design. The approach means that all materials and products are seen as healthy nutrients to be recycled either back into the technical or bio-sphere over and over again.
Desso rigorously analyses the chemical makeup of all its raw materials to ensure they meet Cradle to Cradle® standards, assessed by the Environmental Protection Encouragement Agency (EPEA) run by Cradle to Cradle® pioneer Professor Michael Braungart.
“We are aiming to use only pure and healthy materials,” says Stef Kranendijk. “Through this design philosophy we are creating products that can be up-cycled on a continuous process and be highly profitable.”
The Cradle to Cradle® approach to business design and manufacturing offers a blueprint for the future of enlightened enterprise and the Desso/RSA debate provided a platform for an expert panel to discuss how to re-invent business and pave the way for a more sustainable future for all.
The panel included Stef Kranendijk, CEO, Desso; Dame Ellen MacArthur, round-the-world yachtswoman and founder of The Ellen MacArthur Foundation, which is promoting Cradle to Cradle® design and the circular economy; Penny Shepherd MBE, CEO, UK Sustainable Investment and Finance (UKSIF) and an advisor to the Green Investment Bank (GIB); and, Paul King, CEO, the UK Green Building Society (UK-GBC).
The event was chaired by Matthew Taylor, Chief Executive of the RSA and former adviser to UK Prime Minister Tony Blair.
In his annual lecture at the RSA on Enlightened Enterprise, Matthew Taylor said that companies like Desso, which had committed itself to Cradle to Cradle® up-cycling, were “transforming industry and consumer expectations.”
“The RSA is keen to explore how more businesses can combine a strategy for competitive success with a commitment to environmental responsibility and social good,” says Taylor, “and we’re very pleased to be working with Desso on this event to continue the debate”.
“I’m thrilled to have played a part in such an important event,” says Stef Kranendijk. “The RSA, with its commitment to enlightened enterprise was the perfect place to hold a serious discussion of what needs to be done and how to get there.”
Stef Kranendijk talked about why he began this major transformation in early 2008 and how it is already bearing fruit. The company has met its targets to create Cradle to Cradle® products in one of its biggest division: carpet tiles; and it has developed the technology to take used carpets back and recycle them. He also showed how this has involved a complete transformation in the way materials are sourced and used, how products are designed, how the supply chain is organised and how the company manages customer relations. Between 2006 and 2010, Desso’s earnings increased more than nine-fold (EBIT), proving that the Cradle to Cradle® approach has made the company more profitable and innovative.
“With the world’s population increasing to nine billion by 2050 and the rising economies growing at great speed, we cannot afford to squander our natural resources anymore,” says Kranendijk. “It is not just vital to the future of our planet, Cradle to Cradle® is an inspiring and practical philosophy which offers a way to make money and have a good environmental footprint.”
For listening the audio clip, please see: http://www.thersa.org/events/audio-and-past-events/2011/Re-imagining-Business-the-transition-to-the-circular-economy