From dream to reality, a circular economy
The technology is already available, all we need now are the people. This became clear at the fascinating circular economy seminar organised by students in Inholland University of Applied Sciences’ International Business & Management Studies (IBMS) programme. Opportunities for sustainability-related business innovation are a hot topic, which explains why the meeting attracted so many people. The circular economy concept actually inspires people to be sat in a chair for three hours and take part in lively discussions even on a lovely sunny day when you would much rather be outside.
Students, lecturers, and people from the world of business were given a glimpse of what the circular economy is all about. Zero Waste Center's Antarctica project is a clear example of how the technology to create value from waste is already adequately available. “We need to ditch the notion that waste is worthless, which is so ingrained in people’s minds,” says Edwin Ter Velde. “Think different! If we keep doing the things we’ve always been doing, nothing will ever change.”
We need to ditch the notion that waste is worthless, which is so ingrained in people’s minds. Think different! If we keep doing the things we’ve always been doing, nothing will ever change.
Marie-José Baartmans of Breytner illustrated this point beautifully with the successful business case of their Zero-Emission transport service in Rotterdam. “Our fully electric vehicles allow us to offer sustainable logistics solutions within an otherwise highly conservative logistics industry,” Marie-José explains. “We are permanently looking into ways to improve, and have, for example, found that the human factor has a major impact on vehicle performance.” Breytner is a showcase for the Netherlands and the entire EU that provides an impetus to seek behavioural change in logistics.
The partnership between Green Recycled Organics (GRO) and fair-trade coffee producer Moyee Coffee is a fine example of enhanced collaboration between companies in the circular economy. GRO uses Moyee Coffee’s coffee grounds (waste) to make healthy oyster mushroom snacks. There was also some interesting cross-pollination going on at the seminar. GRO turned out to be struggling to find sustainable transportation, which just happened to be Breytner’s core business.
“Companies are increasingly striking up partnerships, which is resulting in new complex processes and organisational structures,” says Han Van Kleef of the Learning and Development in Organisations research group at Inholland. Han’s research looks at the changes in business as a result of the circular economy. “For education to keep up with such changes, there will have to be more collaboration between the various faculties at Inholland, in projects that accurately reflect the current complexity,” according to Van Kleef. Collaboration within a Community of Practice (CoP) is a good start, involving lecturers from various programmes at Inholland, such as Technology, Life Sciences, Media Management, IT and Business Studies.
It was very interesting to see how all speakers basically dovetailed with each other. This is what really made it hit home how important it is that we work together in the circular economy. Normally, a lecture presents one guest speaker’s perspective, but this time I got the story from different angles.
As it turned out during the seminar, the circular economy is a lively subject. “It was very interesting to see how all speakers basically dovetailed with each other. This is what really made it hit home how important it is that we work together in the circular economy. Normally, a lecture presents one guest speaker’s perspective, but this time I got the story from different angles,” says Franka Smit, IBMS student. Inholland has already started building relevant expertise in various places, making us an important partner for circular companies in the future.