Impact Meetup — Circular Futures: Takeaways from the event

We’ve hosted our second impact meetup. Together with HempConnect we directed a focus on the topic of business model innovation to foster the circular economy.

How can we shift to circular practices, what are the parameters to consider when working on a circular business model for hardware products, and how can emerging technologies help us overcome the complexity of interconnected value chains and material information, for all stakeholders involved?

With Tim Künzel and Nando Knodel from HempConnect, our alumni startup and experts regarding agricultural circularity and carbon management, we had the chance to receive first-hand insights into their business model development. The startup from Hamburg has developed a platform model to collect comprehensive data, further mitigate process emissions, forecast crop yields, and quantify carbon sinks for hemp farming.

What is the circular economy?

At the moment the global economy is 8,6% circular, meaning that material’s value and quality are fully recovered at the end of every product’s lifecycle. Thus, the circular economy is a promising strategy for ecological and social sustainability, as it maintains regenerative processes and fossil resources, protects living space and biodiversity, and is a crucial lever when it comes to reaching the 1,5-degree goal.

As with every meetup, we would like to share our most relevant takeaways from the event, collected from the speaker's input and the discussions in-between.

4 Takeaways from the Meetup:

  1. Climate action and circularity go hand in hand. The circular economy is a crucial building block on the path to 1,5°, since the way we extract, use, and consume materials accounts for 70% of the GHG emissions caused. At the same time, scientific research shows that we can lower emissions by 40% when shifting to circular systems in the heavy industry sectors alone.
  1. There is no circular blueprint: the circular economy is a developing field, and there is no “one size fits all”–solution. The more important it is, to continuously observe markets, talk to stakeholders and stay versatile and ready to pivot approaches.
  1. Tracking and collecting data with emerging technologies is a foundation for managing non-linear, but interlinking value chains and the materials that pass through them. It’s also becoming an increasingly growing economic asset since the data make non-virgin materials from diverse industry sectors accessible.
  1. Digital platforms or product passports may become a tool to enable transparency across entire value chains, providing information such as a product's origin, assemblage, material composition, quality, repair options, or end-of-life solutions. This also plays an increasingly important role for companies, when assessing and reporting their activities for sustainability standards.

“The establishment of circular business models requires innovative and effective rethinking. Instead of continuing to focus on profit maximization and cost reduction, a redesign, and restructuring of supply chains, products and services are necessary to ensure the sustainability of business models.” Tim Künzel

The Impact Meetup is a quarterly event, to bring founders, innovators, and professionals together to exchange, and discuss experiences and ideas, as well as network to build a strong ecosystem for a purpose-driven economy, that benefits all stakeholders. Community members and non-members are welcome!  

Our next meetup will take place in July. Follow us on social media to stay up-to-date on our upcoming events. ;-)

Written by Claudia Bumb