As businesses and practitioners around the world seek more sustainable business models to reduce climate impacts, the concept of a circular economy is emerging as a key part of the solution. But rethinking our whole economic model to move to a more circular approach requires capacity building.
EIT Climate-KIC has developed a new approach to thinking about circular economy focused on implementing change. The approach is based on the research of Professor Dr. Fenna Blomsma (University of Hamburg), following a feasibility study in which 150 organisations were surveyed to find out what gaps and needs exist in terms of circular knowledge.
EIT Climate-KIC created Circularity Thinking to tackle climate change through the implementation of circular strategies – creating skills and knowledge to understand why and how circular strategies can be effective. A number of flagship EIT Climate-KIC projects and training programmes have been using this approach since 2019-2020.
Circularity Thinking is not just a set of tools. It creates a circular mindset by exploring the problems of a linear approach and then developing circular strategies that solve linear problems.
This approach creates value by:
- Impact – the learning materials help new learners develop and implement circular strategies and operate in a more circular way.
- Collaboration – the community of trainers and users are working in many different sectors and countries across Europe, and are supported to work with other trainers and partners to develop new delivery approaches.
- Innovation – the feedback loops between trainers, EIT Climate-KIC partners and the Hamburg University results in tools and approaches being regularly updated.
Using Circularity Thinking at EIT Climate-KIC
EIT Climate-KIC has been using Circularity Thinking since 2019 and has conducted trainings in different sectors and locations across Europe like Romania, Italy and Spain.
The LOOP-Ports project, which aims to transition the port sector to a more circular economy, uses this approach. The project was awarded by the International Association of Ports and Harbors (IAPH) World Ports Sustainability Awards 2020 in the ‘Climate and Energy’ category.
The City Loops project also participated in EIT Climate-KIC’s Circularity Thinking courses as a circular economy innovation and training programme to build and strengthen communities of circularity practitioners in five cities (and surrounding regions). This involved construction in Berlin, procurement in Edinburgh and biowaste in Frankfurt.
Circularity Thinking is also a part of EIT Climate-KIC’s Deep Demonstration project in Slovenia, which aims to transform the Slovenian economy into a circular, regenerative and low carbon one. More details here.
Building a Circularity Thinking Community
EIT Climate-KIC supports a growing community of trainers and practitioners who will contribute to the application of Circularity Thinking in many new and existing activities.
A new community platform brings people together to develop new ideas for Circularity Thinking and to collaborate on new activities. It allows project leaders to implement Circularity Thinking into existing projects or plan the methodology as a central approach for new activities.
Trained users can receive accreditation after demonstrating their expertise in using and applying Circularity Thinking tools.
Circularity Thinking Programme
EIT Climate-KIC Circularity Thinking training programme was developed from the results of Professor Blomsma’s study. Most respondents wanted to learn about how successful organisations deliver aspects of the circular economy, and how they identified and overcame challenges.
Circularity Thinking training requires reframing a problem (‘problem space’) to see what the challenge is. The idea is to map the current system to understand the context of the problems. The process then moves to a ‘solution space’ where practitioners identify circular strategies that can support change. Since multiple strategies are possible, the process identifies strategies that connect and support the goals and consider the role of different stakeholders in delivering the new action plan.
The ability to map resource flows, to find structural waste, organise circular strategies coherently, and analyse these strategies from a systems perspective creates an excellent foundation for providing circular value and managing a range of relevant factors that influence whether or not a solution is successfully implemented.
The training proved to be a hit with a number of participants: “The course over-delivered, with its hands-on approach on understanding tools like the circularity compass, value hill, strategies scanner etc, backed by relevant case-studies, open-minded experienced tutors, clearly explained online learning management system and the pool of professional colleagues that stretched my outlooks. The online visual collaborative assignments made us the actors, not passive spectator students.” Jovin Hurry, May 2021.
EIT Climate-KIC and approved trainers will be developing training and project activities over the course of 2022.