Focus on a circular economy

Andy Kenworthy

Some of New Zealand’s most forward-thinking business leaders and futurists are in Gisborne this week to explore how the region could benefit from implementing a “circular economy”.

Activate Tairawhiti, the region’s economic development agency, is hosting a two day conference, starting tomorrow, to explore how an economy, underpinned by the use of renewable energy and providing a sustainable, viable and low carbon alternative could replace a traditional economic model.

One of the key speakers will be Andy Kenworthy from the Sustainable Business Network.

“A circular economy keeps all resources in continuous cycles of use and reuse. It removes all waste, pollution and toxic materials from our lives. It makes sustainability compatible with continued technological progress,” he said.

“Sustainability can come across as this huge, ever-changing list of ‘dos and don’ts’. Or it can be seen as a call to return to some more primitive way of life. The circular economy is a simple, thorough, practical and effective way to tackle the challenges we face.

“A small theoretical example. We currently import cheap power drills made from bonded plastics, wires and metal. They gather rust and dust in our garages and get used for maybe an hour a year. When they break, they can’t be recycled. They end up polluting our landfills. We go buy another one.

“Instead, could we make modular power drills with easily removable replaceable parts? They could have biodegradable materials. They could be centrally stored and shared by inexpensive subscription. Need a drill? A quality tool arrives within the hour. No need to buy it, store it, deal with maintenance or repair. It gets more use. It can be upgraded and remade many times. When parts completely wear out, they are easily and cleanly recycled.”

Mr Kenworthy said while the ideas were not new, they were now being unified and systematically applied to everything we do.

“This provides the opportunity to secure an abundant future.

“At the conference I will be outlining the importance of this idea and the enormous opportunities it offers businesses in Gisborne and the region as a whole. As well as providing an easy introduction to the concept. I will be illustrating this with multi-sector case studies of New Zealand businesses already using this thinking to drive their success.

The conference would also explore waste-free living, transition to a low-emission economy, along with talks from leading business people, including the MindLab by Unitec founder Frances Valintine, who will talk about the future of work.

Activate Tairawhiti’s Tairawhiti Economic Action Plan programme manager Harley Dibble said about 150 people had already registered to attend the event at Te Poho o Rawiri marae.

“There’s been a lot of positive feedback about the line-up — and the speakers themselves are excited to be a part of this.”

Mr Dibble said the conference had been put together with input from “a number of locals”.

“The big hope is to realise the benefits of Tairawhiti moving to a circular economy. At the conference we’ll explore what that might look like in our region and the steps we’ll need to take to get there.

“As well as helping to reduce our regional economy’s environmental impact, a circular economy has the potential in the long term to save us money and help to future proof our region’s prosperity.

“We have a fantastic line-up of speakers both local, national and international speakers. The quality of people attracted to this event definitely shows the growing recognition of how important sustainable and circular economies are.

“The local case study presentations will show the great circular initiatives planned or already under way in Tairawhiti.

“The Circular Economy is the first regional conference on the subject in New Zealand and is the start of an important conversation that needs to continue in the region. Activate Tairawhiti is proud to be supporting this event, with the support of key sponsors Hikurangi Enterprises, GDC, Massey University, MBIE and TPK.”

During the conference, Eastland Community Trust would also unveil a “wellbeing framework for Tairawhiti”.

The conference is free but people should register to attend through the Activate Tairawhiti website.

Some of New Zealand’s most forward-thinking business leaders and futurists are in Gisborne this week to explore how the region could benefit from implementing a “circular economy”.

Activate Tairawhiti, the region’s economic development agency, is hosting a two day conference, starting tomorrow, to explore how an economy, underpinned by the use of renewable energy and providing a sustainable, viable and low carbon alternative could replace a traditional economic model.

One of the key speakers will be Andy Kenworthy from the Sustainable Business Network.

“A circular economy keeps all resources in continuous cycles of use and reuse. It removes all waste, pollution and toxic materials from our lives. It makes sustainability compatible with continued technological progress,” he said.

“Sustainability can come across as this huge, ever-changing list of ‘dos and don’ts’. Or it can be seen as a call to return to some more primitive way of life. The circular economy is a simple, thorough, practical and effective way to tackle the challenges we face.

“A small theoretical example. We currently import cheap power drills made from bonded plastics, wires and metal. They gather rust and dust in our garages and get used for maybe an hour a year. When they break, they can’t be recycled. They end up polluting our landfills. We go buy another one.

“Instead, could we make modular power drills with easily removable replaceable parts? They could have biodegradable materials. They could be centrally stored and shared by inexpensive subscription. Need a drill? A quality tool arrives within the hour. No need to buy it, store it, deal with maintenance or repair. It gets more use. It can be upgraded and remade many times. When parts completely wear out, they are easily and cleanly recycled.”

Mr Kenworthy said while the ideas were not new, they were now being unified and systematically applied to everything we do.

“This provides the opportunity to secure an abundant future.

“At the conference I will be outlining the importance of this idea and the enormous opportunities it offers businesses in Gisborne and the region as a whole. As well as providing an easy introduction to the concept. I will be illustrating this with multi-sector case studies of New Zealand businesses already using this thinking to drive their success.

The conference would also explore waste-free living, transition to a low-emission economy, along with talks from leading business people, including the MindLab by Unitec founder Frances Valintine, who will talk about the future of work.

Activate Tairawhiti’s Tairawhiti Economic Action Plan programme manager Harley Dibble said about 150 people had already registered to attend the event at Te Poho o Rawiri marae.

“There’s been a lot of positive feedback about the line-up — and the speakers themselves are excited to be a part of this.”

Mr Dibble said the conference had been put together with input from “a number of locals”.

“The big hope is to realise the benefits of Tairawhiti moving to a circular economy. At the conference we’ll explore what that might look like in our region and the steps we’ll need to take to get there.

“As well as helping to reduce our regional economy’s environmental impact, a circular economy has the potential in the long term to save us money and help to future proof our region’s prosperity.

“We have a fantastic line-up of speakers both local, national and international speakers. The quality of people attracted to this event definitely shows the growing recognition of how important sustainable and circular economies are.

“The local case study presentations will show the great circular initiatives planned or already under way in Tairawhiti.

“The Circular Economy is the first regional conference on the subject in New Zealand and is the start of an important conversation that needs to continue in the region. Activate Tairawhiti is proud to be supporting this event, with the support of key sponsors Hikurangi Enterprises, GDC, Massey University, MBIE and TPK.”

During the conference, Eastland Community Trust would also unveil a “wellbeing framework for Tairawhiti”.

The conference is free but people should register to attend through the Activate Tairawhiti website.

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