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Conference: Australia must embrace circular economy to cut raw material use

Andrew Sibley

Australian businesses need to embrace product stewardship and the circular economy to slash the use of raw materials, according to Desso managing director of Asia Pacific Andrew Sibley.

Mr Sibley was speaking at From Innovation to Market: The Business of Acceleration and Scaling Up for Growth and Prosperity at Australia’s Sustainability in Business Conference & Exhibition in Melbourne on Thursday, where he revealed the global carpet supplier was about to launch Australia’s first carpet-leasing program in partnership with a yet-to-be-named Australian brand.

Mr Sibley said at the end of the product’s life the supplier would able to take the carpet back and reuse the material rather than it going to landfill.

“We take it back to our factory, we recycle it and make the same product again, so actually [we don’t] touch any of the raw materials,” he said. “That – the circular economy – is where we should go.

“Can you imagine losing all these raw materials with five billion more people (on the planet) in the next 20 years? It is not sustainable so eventually we will need to come to this product stewardship circular economy.”

In 2008, Desso adopted the Cradle to Cradle business model, which deals with three global challenges: toxicity in materials, climate change and resource scarcity.

Desso and the other Cradle to Cradle companies must adhere to five principles: material health, material reutilisation, renewable energy use, water stewardship and social responsibility.

A 2012 report, Towards the Circular Economy: Economic and business rationale for an accelerated transition, calculated that businesses in the EU could reap annual savings of AU$675 billion by moving to the circular economy.

“So when we are talking to businesses it is not, ‘Let’s have a sustainability story,’ it is, ‘How can we save you money for the future?’ If you can get into the fabric of the business and work out how it can actually save them money then the people with the purse strings will become aligned to that,” Mr Sibley said.

“We decided to take it to the next step. Everyone can do that if you want; it doesn’t matter the size of your business. You just need to change the way you think.”

Mr Sibley encouraged Australian businesses to help educate other businesses and the Australian consumer.

“Can you imagine if you helped change the way people think a little bit? [Europe] looks upon you [Australians] as leaders but the reality is you don’t do as much as we think you do.”

Comments

4 Responses to “Conference: Australia must embrace circular economy to cut raw material use”

  • Warren B says:

    The Aus flooring industry should be grateful for this valuable insight and reprimand. Even companies contributing less than 2% of the market should still feel entitled to voice their opinion.

    This would be such a great platform for all the commercial flooring manufacturers to state their own actual recycling policy. Not just give it a marketing nemonic to give the impression of recycling but to truly and honestly state here and now, what they do to their product which has been installed in Australia, at the end of its useful life. No excuses, just the facts.

    Too much time and money is spent on carpet manufacturers paying consultants to elevate their green credentials and very little physical recycling or even down-cycling.

    Whose first?

    • Emma scott-gilkes says:

      I see Desso are growing their business in Australia
      and now the have joined Tarkett. Cradle to cradle companies
      are hopefully making a difference. Too much talk and Greenwash
      is promoted by paid consultants and that’s not good for the consumer.
      I think it’s very brave of Desso to take on the market and the more companies
      that can challenge the establishment the better ! I hope that
      greenwash companies take note !!

  • Warren B says:

    Don’t forget other Carpet Manufacturers also adopt and follow C2C.

  • Brett Murphy says:

    Bravo to Desso.
    Although the circular economy requires a dramatic shift away from concepts of resource/capital ownership, which would challenge most organisations that have invested heavily in traditional production & supply chains, more CSR-focused companies should follow suit and change up the status quo.

    Walter Stahel must be proud!

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