Businesses have a lot to gain from applying the principles of the circular economy to the workplace, says Ann Beavis.
When considering net-zero targets, the focus is usually around renewable energy and energy efficiency. On their own, these aren’t enough to achieve net zero. Forty-five per cent of our carbon emissions come from the products we use every day, meaning circular thinking has a pivotal role in achieving net-zero carbon emissions.
Businesses have a lot to gain from applying the principles of the circular economy to the workplace – from the fabric, fixtures and fittings of the building to the furnishings and consumables used daily.
The principles of ‘use less, share more, and source sustainably so what you do use can be reused, repurposed or recycled’ bring much wider benefits to society, as well as the financial and environmental savings.
Applying circular economy principles requires a deep-rooted system and mindset change to shift from consumption models to protecting the value of resources and engaging with servitisation. While this requires long-term, strategic thinking, there’s also a great opportunity for quick wins.
“Businesses need to understand their asset use”
Easy starting points include refurbishing rather than disposing of broken or worn furniture to extend its life span and help to meet future need. Alternatively, passing on assets through resale or donation initiatives prevent waste and support others’ needs. These steps can deliver demonstrable benefits and build understanding, helping to embed circular thinking in the longer term.
As we look to a post-Covid-19 future, businesses need to understand their asset use in relation to a shifting workplace – decision-making is now much more short term but this does not mean environmental principles need to be forgotten.
With the proliferation of homeworking, more furniture and IT equipment are needed in the domestic environment – so supporting reuse has never been more important. The workplace is changing in ways we couldn’t have imagined a few months ago, so there’s no better time to introduce circular thinking.
Ann Beavis is head of sustainable development at Crown Workspace