On Thursday 22nd November 2018, The Future Economy Network and Bath University co-hosted an event entitled ‘Low Carbon Innovation in Resources and the Circular Economy’. The event was a part of the ERDF funded STBAH programme, supporting business growth in low carbon services and products.
The event kicked off with an opportunity to network over a sustainably sourced continental breakfast and an introduction to the STBAH Programme from Pete Keevil, Entrepreneur in Residence. He explained that the Sustainable Technologies Business Acceleration Hub offers bespoke business support and coaching to help innovative companies in the West of England achieve their potential. This support is free and is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
The STBAH programme is open to Founders or Directors of growth businesses who are developing products or services in the low carbon or sustainable technology sector. This includes (but is not limited to); renewable energy products or services / sustainable built environment / smart city infrastructure or services / circular economy / sustainable chemical technology / low carbon products or services. The Future Economy Network has been collaborating with Bath University to raise awareness of the programme via a series of events, in this instance, one with a focus on the Circular Economy.
Professor Geoff Hammond, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, University of Bath provided a comprehensive overview of the linear versus circular economies, highlighting the importance of designing out waste and reusing and recycling materials, thereby slowing the throughput of materials across the economy. He cited the work of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation in relation to the Waste Hierarchy and the concept of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) which in the UK currently applies to Packaging, Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE), End-of-Life Vehicles (ELVs) and Batteries. Prof. Hammond ended his presentation with a comparison of energy usage for linear versus circular economies and gave a summary of the 2016 BEIS Circular Economy workshop.
Elly Deacon, Associate at Architype then provided some case studies as to how her architecture firm has put circular economy principles into practice within the built environment, citing the UEA Enterprise Centre as an example of good practice. The construction industry accounts for approximately 60% of UK material use and so is an important consideration within the circular economy field. The Enterprise Centre achieved the Passivhaus standard and BREEAM ‘Outstanding’ and showcases its use of low carbon, local materials.
Ian Townsend, CEO of Bristol Green Capital Partnership spoke about the ambition for Bristol in relation to the adoption of Circular Economy principles with particular reference to BGCP’s 2019-2022 Circular Bristol priority; creating a route-map for Bristol to collectively commit by 2022 to become a leading resource-efficient, sustainable and competitive ‘Circular City’.
He was followed by Peter Bradley, Associate Professor in Economics from the University of the West of England speaking about a framework for incorporating sustainable development into business models for circular economy. Peter discussed the concept of value and it being based upon an individual’s perception and being context dependent. He introduced the ‘torch light framework’ as a means of conceptualising value (including wider societal value); incorporating consideration of key resources, key stakeholders and key activities. He concluded by suggesting that such a framework is appropriate for investigating sustainability of circular economy business models. A link to his paper on the Torch Light Framework be found here: https://blogs.uwe.ac.uk/economics-finance/integrating-sustainable-development-into-economics-curriculum/
Connor Bryant, Director and Designer for Loop Innovations was our final speaker for the morning and spoke about how there needs to be a more considered approach to the use of plastics, rather than thinking that they are necessarily the wrong product. He cited his work with addressing plastic usage at festivals and highlighted the need for one’s carbon footprint to be of primary importance in conversations around resource usage.
This was followed by a panel discussion around funding where we welcomed Pete Keevil, Entrepreneur in Residence for STBAH, Alan Bailey, Director of The Future Economy Group and Edward Corrigan, Partner of Corrigan Associates; all of whom shared their insights into how to ensure that such important work receives the funding it requires.
The event ended with a light lunch and as always, some lively networking!
We would like to offer sincere thanks to all of our speakers and panellists for an informative and engaging event. Also, a huge thank you to all attendees – we hope you found it worthwhile and came away with some useful insights/collaborations.