Based on what I heard at the event, I am of the opinion that Brighton has already started to Construct a Circular City and a great example of this is the amazing house made out of others’ waste that we visited. But I am getting ahead of myself.
Let’s start with the objective of the event, which was to share current examples and think about Construction’s contribution to making Brighton and Hove a Sustainable City (see Executive Summary of the economic strategy here ) as part of a move to a more Circular Economy.
“ Circular” in the sense that current commercial practices have resulted in a linear economy where we make-use-dispose of things once which is putting great pressure on the world’s limited resources. A Circular Economy is modelled after nature itself where there is no waste and all resources are reused. For example take plants: they grow in the soil, blossom and eventually die leading to decomposition and eventually becoming nourishment in the soil for the next generation of plants. (You can find a full definition of Circular Economy on the Ellen McArthur Foundation website here .)
The construction industry uses about 400 million tonnes of material a year while producing about 60 million tonnes of waste going to landfill which makes up about 32% of all materials going to landfill ( source ). Clearly an industry with potential to gain both environmental and economic benefits from going circular.
The sun was shining as the visitors filed into the Brighton Waste House to hear from the architect Duncan Baker-Brown (@BBMArchitects) and material sourcer Cat Fletcher (@CityReuseDepot) about the interesting stuff used to constructed the waste house, including:
· 4000 DVDs
· 2 tonnes of denim offcuts
· 20,000 toothbrushes
Which, I guess, is why Baker-Brown says “There is no such thing as waste - just stuff in the wrong place!”
After the tours of the Waste House and a lunch carefully designed to ensure no food waste, there were a series of presentations hosted by Brighton University at their Edwards St building in Brighton which itself is an example of a repurposed building.
Dr David Greenfield (@DrResources) welcomed everyone and gave a short summary of Circular Brighton and Hove which was followed by Max Woodford, Assistant Director of City Development and Regeneration Brighton and Hove, providing context for the event and giving a broad outline of how the City is addressing a transition to a Circular Economy. The event had been designed to focus on the five stages of construction: design, materials, construction, use and end of life with presentations on each by the following people:
• Duncan Baker-Brown explained how designers have the ability to save the planet so there is HOPE for us all. He then illustrated this assertion with various examples from trainers made from ocean waste plastic to high-end purses made from used firehose with references to his book published by RIBA; The Reuse Atlas, he gave inspirational examples of buildings being modified and repurposed as well as reconstructed highlighting how it is possible for designers to successfully navigate and exploit the fields of resource management and the circular economy.
• Stephanie Palmer, Sustainability Manager at Wienerberger Ltd, explained how the humble brick, the building block for centuries, is adapting to fit into the circular economy. Sustainability is central to their mission to improve people's quality of life with outstanding materials for the built environment. She covered topics from reducing embodied carbon to the development of robotic brick layers to reducing the construction cost for bricks.
• Robert Winch from the UK Green Building Council talked about the way contruction companies are embracing circular economy, with examples from the UKGBC circular economy programme launched in Spring 2018 and the Circular Economy Guidance for Construction Clients , which provides comprehensive practical guide for those wanting to include circular principles in their project briefs.
• Ian Blake, Partner at BPP Consulting explained the role of planning in determining how new infrastructure can be influenced. In particular, a project for LWARB led by SOENECS, BPP and BBM which created a planning Policy statement, that has been adopted by councils in London, asking developers how waste and recycling materials from homes will be managed during the operational life of the building, complemented by a new template strategy for them to complete.
• Emmanuel Cortes Garcia outline a European Funded Interreg Project - Facilitating the Circulation of Reclaimed Building Elements (FCRBE). He explained how the project which is just starting will deliver:
· An online directory that richly documents more than 1500 specialised reuse operators,
· A pre-demolition audit method for reusable elements,
· A set of 4 innovative specification methods for reclaimed products,
• These tools will be tested and promoted through 36 pilot operations taking place in large (de)construction projects, whereby more than 360 tonnes of elements will be reused. Effective communication efforts towards the stakeholders of the construction industry (including public authorities) will facilitate a smooth integration of these outputs into field practices and policies.
Finally all the presenters were brought back together for a panel discussion and Q&A session with the audience.
There followed a series of roundtable discussion on the five stages of construction:
· End of Life
The discussions under each topic focused on identifying opportunities and challenges along with known examples and practical actions Brighton and Hove City Council (BHCC) may wish to take into account as they develop a Circular Economy framework as part of the wider Economic Strategy 2018-2023 .
Some attendees also were given the opportunity to play a game called Circulab as a method for developing a Circular Economy solution to a practical business challenge, in this case a Circular Economy 3 bed home.
Much useful information and many ideas were collected from the round table discussions and will now be integrated into the development of the BHCC Circular Economy Framework. In closing it was noted that further consultations are being planned to gather input for the Circular Economy Framework in both the Construction Sector and the Visitor Economy, the dates of which will be posted on the Circular Brighton and Hove Website.
Our Mayday event was eclectic, to say the least! After some gentle chit-chat/networking, we moved from Harriet’s dream, to Steve’s declaration and reached a crescendo with the very talented Shirley the Middle-aged Siren, singing, chatting, swirling around the audience and also putting out a serious request to reduce marine plastics because they get in her gills.
A pat on our backs…
I’ll start with one of the highlights for me, which was when Steve did a quick audience poll about what people like about our events. One first-timer said he was pleasantly surprised - he had expected to be “lectured at”, but instead he felt like we were all sharing!
Other comments included :
• “I hear about viable businesses”
• “I feel empowered to make a change in my life”
• “Good balance between academic and practical”; “the events are educational - like the one in Lewes about the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Sussex university event in February ”
• “Different parts are relatable to different people for different reasons. You relate to the theme (e.g. fashion ) and that hooks you in to the broader circular economy - clever!”
• “Focused on the Greater Brighton area - not just the city”.
This was so rewarding for us, as we do spend a lot of (pro bono) time planning these events, and it’s great to get such positive feedback.
Harriet’s relationship with plastics
Harriet is a living, breathing example of “If you want to get something done, ask a busy person!”. She’s an NHS nurse, and she and her partner, who also works in healthcare, set up a “plastic-free pantry” called Harriet’s of Hove last year. She told us:
• She began to notice how much single-use plastic waste was being generated at the hospital, and started to tackle ways to reduce it and recycle it - “I was working for an organisation which cares for people - how could they be doing this?”
• Because she kept banging on about plastics, a friend suggested she do “Plastic-Free July” last year, and she went from having a very specific dream about running a plastic-free shop on Blatchington Road to the reality of opening it - all within 12 weeks!
• Plastic isn’t always bad - but be careful about being lulled into a false sense of security about plastics being “recyclable”. You can’t recycle them forever. Each time they are recycled, they decrease in quality. Seek ways to reduce how much you use in the first place.
• Harriet has also been pleasantly surprised that the “plastics” conversation is a great Trojan horse - customers talk to her about broader topics such as healthier eating and organic food, for example.
I love popping into Harriet’s shop for my food staples (especially the chocolate buttons), and I even take visiting friends there. Having seen my Facebook posts, my French friend Sophie asked if we could go there to buy a metal water bottle for her daughter. Harriet’s going global!
Next steps for Circular Brighton and Hove
Steve Creed provided an outline of the strategy we’ve developed for Circular Brighton and Hove (CB&H). In addition to the varied and well-attended events , our group has successfully influenced the Brighton and Hove City Council (BHCC) to include the Circular Economy as the fifth pillar of the 2018-2023 Economic Strategy.
Steve’s full presentation (available here ) included our four key activities: Continuing monthly events; Building relationships with other like-minded groups and organisations; Stepping up the #GoingCircular campaign; and completing two pieces of research.
We broke into discussion groups to allow people another chance to talk to each other, and to ask for people’s input on the three topics below.
1. Premium Membership
Steve highlighted that Circular B&H will remain an awareness-raising and influencing force delivered mainly through voluntary efforts of its members. Given the early stage of its development, there are no immediate plans to incorporate, but this will be kept under consideration.
We’re seeking ways to cover a few basic costs, such as website, event insurance, room rental (when needed), drinks and snacks, and, ideally a small contribution towards the time spent on the logistics of setting up events, so we are considering launching a Premium Membership scheme.
We have over 500 “members” at the moment - these are the people on our mailing list, and who attend our events. We asked attendees to give their opinion: “How would you see a premium membership scheme working including price, frequency, benefits?”.
· On relationship between CB&H and members: Consider a subscription platform, for example, www.patreon.com. “Membership is a relationship between you and your most engaged fans — the ones that choose to go a level deeper than just following you on social media. They become paying patrons in exchange for exclusive benefits you offer.” It enables development of a webpage, newsletters and events and users subscribe to access the information; Do not let the membership benefits outstrip the income; People may be motivated to do more if they become Members; Consider a co-working space for members and create a community eg see Impact Hub https://impacthub.net/ ; Be transparent.
· On fees/volunteering: We’d happily pay an annual fee; Offer those who do not want to pay a membership fee a chance to pay via volunteering their time for CB&H; Keep the membership structure simple e.g. a flat membership rate; Have a tailored membership whereby it is possible to volunteer x hours per month.
· Other forms of fund-raising: Have corporate memberships also and use these to keep the membership cost low for individuals; Seek partnerships; Seek sponsors but ensure they fit with the Declaration values and have certain criteria (eg ethical, like-minded, where do their funds come from, etc) that sponsor organisations need to comply with; Put a “hat” on the table for people to donate what they can towards costs on the evening.
Steve explained that the core team of volunteers has started to formalise how we organise ourselves into roles: Research & Declaration Lead (Steve Creed), Circular Economy Club B&H Lead (Peter Desmond), Communications Lead (Sally May), Events & Membership Lead (Julie Greenfield) and Partnerships & External Relationships Lead (David Greenfield).
We’re also looking for members who would like to get involved, and were delighted that some people offered to help in various ways:
• plan and run events
• provide home-made sweet and savoury goodies for our events
• support research projects
Some other suggestions were made during the evening:
• Identifying volunteers: share a list of upcoming events and ask for volunteers, so that people can volunteer to help with subjects that resonate with them - we’ve included that in our newsletter and are adding events to the calendar on our website; create a database of volunteers and skills by doing a volunteer survey to gather skills (e.g. design/creating a poster for an event) and areas of interest (e.g. construction, fashion) and examples of tasks people would be happy to help with (e.g. taking photos at events) - see Volunteer Contact Form here ; do a call-out at all our events - asking people how they’d like to get involved
• Helping members connect: create a Facebook group where “circulators” can connect with each other - recruit some volunteers to share the load of acting as moderators
• Other discussions: connect with Brighton & Hove Citizens Assembly (unable to find a website for this); There was a discussion around charity shops and a suggestion we could connect with Martletts as an example of a large charity shop organisation. Charity shops are “circular” from an environmental point of view, in that they encourage us to extend the life of items, and a social point of view - they help get people back into employment. There was a suggestion that it may be interesting to find/create an umbrella group for charity shops to connect them and help them understand that they are part of the circular economy. If shop employees are made aware of this, they may talk about it with customers and spread awareness. This could also be covered as part of the #goingcircular campaign.
3. The Declaration
Our vision is for Greater Brighton Communities to thrive by becoming Circular Economies. To accelerate this transition, and support the work with the City Council, Circular Brighton & Hove’s next step will be to create, with our members, a “Declaration of Circular Economy“ around which everyone can unite. We asked attendees: “ Can you suggest single words that describe the tone/style the Declaration should adopt? Are there any key Issues you would like to see included?"
We were delighted to see that there was lots of interest. Suggestions included:
· What to include: Needs to define our principles, values and mission; Include our Dreams; Define our commitments and actions; Say what we are against; Be clear about what the outcome will be; Needs to have a link to the #GoingCircular campaign
· How to structure it: Could be structured by sectors like construction/food/textiles etc.; Could be structured around the idea of one statement per month - so 12 - which could link to promotion; look at the Homeless Bill of Rights for inspiration on structure.
· Tone: Needs to be positive in tone; Key words to describe tone : Informal, Reliable, Friendly, and Transparent
· Presentation: Utilise Brighton’s range of creative talents to enhance the document
· How to promote it: Members/circulators could share their social media accounts to allow publication to a wider audience i.e. different age groups/different businesses, different geographic areas.
Thank you to Julie and Steve for capturing the notes from your groups, so they could be summarised here. We’d like to keep these conversations going so do get in touch and/or come and talk to us at future events about these topics.
A huge thank you to Shirley ( Debbie Bridge ) for the fabulous entertainment. If you are free on 19th June, Debbie is doing a (totally different but doubtless equally fantastic) show at Bom-Bane’s in Kemptown - “Miss Givings - A year in the life of a musical theatre wannabe” (Never give up, that's Anita's motto! #MondayMotivation #mondaymotivationalquote - Tickets £10/8 conc). To book firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01273 606400.
Last but not least, we would like to say “thank you” to the University of Brighton - Lucy Lisle, who is responsible for Sustainable Behaviour and Engagement in the university’s Environment Team - for allowing us to use the room at the Edward Street Building. It is thanks to collaboration like this that we are able to continue delivering these events, and bringing such a range of people together.
One of the many reasons that I like Circular
Economy is that it is so solution-focussed. Whenever I feel overwhelmed by
what’s going on in the world, it helps to get together with like-minded people
and explore what’s possible.
Our Circular Economy seminar on 6th February at the University of Sussex Business School certainly hit the spot! It attracted over 120 people - council representatives, academics, students, business people, and just generally interested citizens - who came to listen to Ken Webster ’s keynote speech, our guest speakers and some entrepreneurs with exciting ideas.
Delegate Pack, Presentation and Recording of Ken Webster's Presentation are available in this DropBox
We were looking at two angles:
- Examples of innovative businesses who are using a “circular” lens to find new solutions
- The broader system and what else might need to change.
We crammed a lot in, and although I tried to cover it all in this blog, it turned into a book. So I’ve cut it down and sorted it by a few of the themes I took away from the event:
- Is our economic model working in our favour?
- Let’s take inspiration from nature
- Government - local and national - has a critical role to play
- Collaboration is key
1. Is our economic model working in our favour?
What is the economy for? Is it just about GDP? Is the economy working in the service of people, or are people working in the service of the economy?
In her inspirational guest lecture at the IDS in 2018, Kate Raworth, author of "Doughnut Economics" talked about this. She pointed out the limitations of “linear” economics - which we just accept as normal - and explained what 21st century economics should look like - regenerative and distributive by design.
This is not an abstract theory. During our event we heard from some local entrepreneurs who are already putting into practice the distributive model. Their businesses have a positive impact on the environment whilst helping people save money:
• Siobhan Wilson, founder of the FAIR shop , presented her latest project, Smarter Uniforms, which focuses on getting the most out of school uniforms, ensuring that all the work and resources that have gone into producing them do not go to waste ( @SmarterUniforms ).
• Jenny Barrett ( @superlooperlife) is on a quest to convert parents from being super-wasters to SuperLoopers by setting up a scheme to pass on baby and maternity clothing, typically only worn a few times before being outgrown and often ending up in landfill. This gives people access to more affordable good quality clothing and also creates a supportive community of like-minded parents.
Looking at the broader system, our keynote speaker, Ken Webster, picked up on some of Kate Raworth’s messages and went further. He questioned why we have to work to prove that we’re citizens, and asked whether a universal income might be a better solution.
This idea might have been dismissed as radical in the past, but could we be arriving at a point where it should be a serious option? As Ken pointed out, there are people working in cities who spend more than two thirds of their salary on rent. He reframed the proposal, saying it’s not about welfare: even from a purely “linear” economic point of view, it makes sense to give people enough money to pay for food and accommodation and also be able to have some extra to spend.
2. Let’s take inspiration from nature
In Nature, the concept of waste does not exist. Waste from one creature/plant is a resource for another. This is in stark contrast to how Modern Man has set things up - we have mostly taken a linear approach - take-make-dispose, generating waste and pollution. The idea behind a circular economy is to change that approach and mimic nature. That’s what we mean by going circular.
Ken Webster compared a city to a living organism, like a human body:
- A body uses main arteries/veins to pump nutrients around, and a huge number of smaller capillaries are responsible for actually using up the nutrients on a small scale all around the body, so that the body can interact with the world around it.
- In a city, there needs to be main routes for large flows of “stuff” and places for people to live and do the work. If circular economy is to reach its full potential, it has to go beyond Reduce/Reuse/Recycle and gain traction where all the action is really happening.
He highlighted a former run-down industrial area in Barcelona called Poblenou as an example of where a sort of new village of cafes and workspaces has been created, which are connected to the main arteries and secondary flows, encouraging people to connect and find ways for one person’s waste to become another’s resource. The local government has played a key role in its success - I’ll come back to this later in the blog.
Closer to home, Wayne Hubbard, Chief Executive Officer of the London Waste and Recycling Board (LWARB), explained that circular thinking has changed the way the city is planning for growth. In the past, they would have taken a linear approach, i.e. looked at current and future population size and increased the waste infrastructure accordingly. Now they have flipped it round and are focussing on reducing the amount of waste in the first place.
On our doorstep, taking the notion of one person’s waste being another’s resource, we heard from Ben Seedhouse ( @ToastAle ) who spotted an opportunity - turning the bread waste problem into a business opportunity by using it to make craft beer. Toast Ale gives their profits to a charity called Feedback which is dedicated to transforming our food system.
We also had some exciting examples of nature-inspired work in the construction industry from Ehab Sayed, Founder of Biohm (@biohmhome). Biohm’s goal is to lead the construction industry towards a circular future that is inspired by nature and driven by our human, environmental and economic needs. His examples included plant-based concrete and experiments with different species of mycelium to create sustainable alternatives to some of the construction industry’s most damaging materials.
3. Government - local and national - has a
critical role to play
If we don’t look at the broader system, Ken Webster warned, we could generate even more inequality and waste, by just bolting Circular Economy solutions onto a linear financial economy and leaving things to market forces.
Circular ideas such as leasing rather than buying cars, washing machines etc, (known as “products as a service”) might end up being the reserve of those who can afford them. Circularity needs to be both centralised and distributive. Ownership and democracy are closely linked, so government needs to step in with policies and laws to ensure that the rules of the game are fair. In addition to considering universal income, Ken asked, for example, whether it might make more sense to shift the national tax system from taxing individual people to taxing non-renewables.
Moving to the
local level, we were delighted to welcome Nick
, Executive Director, Economy, Environment & Culture, Brighton
& Hove City Council, who gave a short introduction about the city’s
plans. Here’s an extract from the vision
articulated in Brighton and Hove’s 5 year economic strategy,
published in December 2018:
“Disruptive, collaborative and informative ways of working will be embraced to respond to the long-standing challenges facing the city. In doing so, Brighton & Hove will act as a trailblazer for economic and social change and improvement in the UK and globally.”
Nick highlighted some of the concrete next steps:
- Plans to understand the resilience of our energy infrastructure, with a view to becoming a test bed for electrical vehicles.
- The programme to reduce single use plastics
- The creation of a Circular Economy strategy.
On this last point, Nick explained that capacity is a challenge, and sees that the Council will need to play a convening role, working with local universities, businesses and circular economy experts to create the strategy and bring it to life. Collaboration will be key.
It was good to see so many people in the room who are doubtless chomping at the bit to be part of this movement. We’re excited to see how we can support the Council to create and implement a Circular Economy strategy which includes some of the priority Sustainable Development Goals for Brighton & Hove, and act as a trailblazer in the UK and globally!
As we consider how to tackle economic and social issues in our city and the UK, Ken Webster drew our attention to this research by McKinsey , which states that our economy has entered a new phase, known as the “distributive era, …/… a new era where production matters less and what matters more is access to that production”.
Ken argued that this means new political solutions may be needed to ensure that people get access to what they need:
- One simple example Ken gave of how government can intervene was of a furniture manufacturer in the North of England, who explained that he had nowhere to store unsold furniture, and needed to send it to Belgium to be incinerated. If a solution could be found for him to store furniture locally, it is likely that he could find someone who wants it, and avoid the expense and waste of sending it overseas for incineration.
- Returning to the example of Poblenou in Barcelona, a key factor in the success of the regeneration programme was a decision by the local government to make infrastructure affordable. This has provided a platform on which local businesses and organisations have flourished e.g. community kitchens, a buzzing market.
Maybe, Ken suggested, in cities of the future, it will be recognised that the “commons” are for everyone, and the major flows could be controlled by cooperatives there to serve the people, rather than generate profits for the few. Again, referring to the role local government could play, Ken explained that it’s important to get the balance right between flow and exchange, so that the system remains efficient without becoming too brittle, and resilient without stagnating:
“A living thriving city needs policies which improve flow efficiencies and exchange resilience. These are functionally different:
- Flow points to economies of scale as a way of lowering costs, ‘getting more for less’ = few firms, large volume
- Exchange benefits from ‘adding value with what we have’ ( Guenter Pauli) or economies of scope. Additional benefits, money and non money from diversity and connectivity = many firms, all marginal.”
I doubt I’ve done justice to Ken’s talk, but hope that it’s inspired you to look into it further!
4. Collaboration is key
Nick Hibberd’s shout-out for collaboration will not have fallen on deaf ears. The event demonstrated that Circular Economy is uniting people from different specialities and backgrounds. Businesses are working with academics to provide the latest innovations, and not-for-profits are playing a key role in facilitating the changes.
Shova Thapa Karki from the University of Sussex Business school , who sponsored the event, explained that they have created a new module at the undergraduate level: “Enterprise in the Circular Economy” and mentioned the range of research they are conducting, such as “Closed-loop value chains for reducing food waste” and “Inclusive circular economy innovations in cities”.
Zoe Osmond, Director of the Green Growth Platform, talked about Clean Growth UK , which is a new collaboration between the universities of Brighton, Liverpool and Portsmouth. Its mission will be to help businesses transform innovative ideas to tackle climate change into commercialised products and services. Their goal is to support over 4000 companies nationally.
We also heard from a successful public-private partnership, Brighton Bikeshare ( @BTNBikeShare ). Ian Davey, told us about their story, and how the venture is owned by Brighton & Hove City Council, run by UK operator Hourbike and sponsored by American Express.
And finally, the event itself was a great example of collaboration, and how this topic can bring all kinds of people together. It was organised by Circular Brighton & Hove (CBH), hosted by David Greenfield ( SOENECS and CBH), sponsored by the University of Sussex Business School, and was attended by over 120 people from many different walks of life.
We’d like to thank everyone for coming and are looking forward to picking up where we left off with the entrepreneurs (rather abruptly due to a double booking!) in future events.
Anyone wishing to see a detailed overview of the event is welcome to consult the delegates’ pack which is available with the presentations and a recording of Ken Webster’s talk here.
We, the volunteer Circulators of Circular Brighton & Hove, believe that a strong, dynamic network of businesses and communities in the Greater Brighton Region can be created.
Through these monthly events, we want to provide a space where people can connect with others and explore new ways of living and working, so that we can strengthen the movement towards a circular economy which will benefit people and the environment.
Please email email@example.com if you would like to be added to our mailing list.
Over the course of 2018, we evolved from
being individuals who have dinner together and work separately on
sustainability-related projects in the direction of being a group who are considering
how we can take action together.
We’ve called ourselves “Circular Brighton and Hove” and set up this website and social media (@CircBrightHove). We’ve articulated a common vision which captures our passion for finding solutions which benefit the environment and the people.
This blog covers:
• Our monthly meetings
• Brighton & Hove City Council and Greater Brighton Economic Board
• #GoingCircular campaign
Our monthly meetings
We had a range of events over 2018, allowing people to connect with others who are interested in circular economy and sustainability, and to learn more about what’s going on in this space in the local area. Venues have ranged from restaurants to art galleries to vineyards and the Volks Railway! When we meet in places with no food, we help to avoid food waste by sourcing our own food locally using apps like "Too Good to Go" .
A quick reminder of our 2018 events:
• As part of a global “mapping” exercise co-ordinated by the Circular Economy Club about 50 of us got together at Eagle Labs in Brighton to hear Steve Creed (ex-WRAP director) explain the characteristics of circular economy projects, and we collated a long list of local examples, which are captured on the map on this website.
• Presentations about local initiatives, e.g. Claire Potter about the Plastic Free Pledge , at Onca Gallery, with botanical drinks supplied by Old Tree Brewery and delicious canapés by We Are Planted .
• Presentations by Cat Fletcher about her tour of circular economy initiatives in Europe and me (Sally May) about our group’s thoughts on coming together to take action - at the Craft Beer Company.
• A guest lecture at IDS by Kate Raworth, author of "Doughnut Economics" , where she pointed out the limitations of “linear” economics and explained what 21st century economics should look like - regenerative and distributive by design. A group of us were lucky enough to meet Kate for tea before her lecture, thanks to Sir Richard Jolly, and talk to her about our ideas for the Greater Brighton region.
• A workshop to revisit the results of the early mapping exercise and review them against Kate Raworth’s work, at Marwood Cafe.
• Tour of Bolney vineyard, with transport courtesy of The Big Lemon.
• Summer reception at Volks railway ( blog ).
• Guided tour of the Brighton Waste House and debate “Fashion and Sustainability, are they compatible?” ( blog ).
• “Our Daily Bread” panel discussion on bread waste in the city ( blog ).
• Discussion about local action to support the UN Sustainable Development Goals and a screening of the circular economy documentary “Closing the Loop” ( blogs ).
• “Sharing city” event, organised with Benita Matofska.
Brighton & Hove City Council and Greater Brighton Economic Board
David and Peter worked with the City Council to develop their new Economic Strategy through the drafting of an additional pillar entitled “ A Sustainable City” . This is defined as, “ A city which looks to the future, focusing its economy on sustainable solutions to future challenges in order to protect and enhance the wellbeing of its residents and act as a leader in developing a robust response to climate change”. The result has been that the circular economy is included as a strategy towards achieving this objective as seen in the final document here .
We have also held discussions with the Greater Brighton Economic Board as to how they can bring the circular economy into their policy and practice in the Region which stretches from Worthing in the East, Newhaven in the West and Gatwick Airport in the North, which includes the UN Biosphere (the Brighton & Lewes Downs).
C ircular B righton & H ove #GoingCircular campaign
In 2018, we also decided to create a community of interest in the Greater Brighton Region around the circular economy and initiate a campaign using the hashtag #GoingCircular to speed up the process of change towards greater circularity. We have started to create short video clips about some of the initiatives which are now posted on our website.
All in all, 2018 was an exciting year for us, with a wide range of events, attended by many people from all kinds of backgrounds. We are looking forward to collaborating with more groups in 2019 to organise more events, and to see how we can build on this platform and contribute to making change happen.
“Closing the Loop” - Film screening and discussion
Maybe I settled a little TOO well into my comfy chair after the afternoon session on SDGs, as my personal review of “ Closing the Loop ” is marred by the fact I fell asleep a few times! I did, however, wake up in time to enjoy seeing the beautiful footage of the community-run conservation area, “ Yunguilla ” near Quito in Ecuador. I also appreciated some of the broader messages, such as: we humans are part of the eco-system, and are like parasites on Planet Earth. If the host dies, the parasites die too.
Circular economy vs recycling
It’s fair to say that there was a mixed reaction to the film in the room, reflected by the post-film discussions, facilitated by Dr David Greenfield ( Soenecs ), and featuring Sir Richard Jolly , Alex Lemille (of Wizeimpact ) and members of the audience.
The main criticism? It missed the opportunity to talk about the real potential of circular economy. Although the film proclaimed that we need to redesign the industrial system, the examples still came from the old 20th century linear approach, and were still promoting consumer society and an unsustainable growth mindset.
Those who enjoyed the film appreciated the ideas for waste reduction and recycling, and acknowledged that those involved were allies of the broader circular economy movement. It’s a journey!
To clarify the difference between innovative recycling and really exciting circular economy initiatives, Alex Lemille cited some examples:
• Ohoo edible water bottles
• riversimple urban mobility solutions, and
• a Parisian start-up called Glowee , who are proposing to harness the power of bio-luminescent bacteria to light up public areas.
Alex also reminded us that “the economy is a tool to respond to human needs - not the other way round”. He talked about the circular humansphere , and exploring the role humans can play in the future. In Circular Economy 2.0, he explained, social equality needs to be embedded in the model. Alex recorded a short video clipwhere he summarises his ideas about the Circular Humansphere.
As Patrick Schroeder had said earlier, the circular economy discourse does highlight economic opportunities, which is good for attracting the interest of businesses, but, if left to its own devices, it neglects inequality and could just be another tool to help winners win more.
Which takes us back again to why it is important to use the SDGs as a framework for coordinated action, with a key focus on SDG 10: “to reduce inequality within and among countries”.
The link between the afternoon session and the evening was that we believe that circular economy has the potential to help us meet the SDGs. This requires a mindset shift away from linear thinking (take - make - dispose), and it requires a change in values, away from focussing on GDP to human and planetary wellbeing. Not only is it needed - quite frankly, as our discussions proved, it’s more exciting too!
All in all, a thought-provoking day and another chance to connect with some really interesting people!