Dame Ellen MacArthur: A paradigm shift in retail

London, UK, 2014-1-24 — /EPR Retail News/ — In today’s dominant economic model the consumer walks away with, and ultimately throws away, the product and all the valuable materials and resources within it.

The result is a linear flow of resources, materials and products – and, importantly for retail, it means once you’ve sold your product, you’ve lost those materials forever.

Resources are finite, but the demand for materials continues to grow, as does the volatility of prices. That’s why it is my conviction that business can benefit by creating circular material flows – generating value again and again. Those financial benefits have been proven through our research with McKinsey. For business, the circular economy provides the opportunity to improve resilience and competitiveness, regain control of resources and ultimately drive growth.

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation focuses on the key pressure points and levers that will accelerate the transition to a circular economy, and working alongside our global partners to help create concrete business offerings is an integral part of our mission.

Kingfisher was instrumental in the creation of the Foundation three years ago and has supported its work ever since. What they saw early on was that a different, better model was possible and have enthusiastically taken up the challenge of rethinking their business practices.

Today, the projects and products that Kingfisher is developing are important because they indicate the start of a new wave of thinking – a change to the way business is done, and they demonstrate how we can make the shift. There is intent right across the business from the top down. They realise the extent of the challenge – that this is not just about one perfectly closed loop product or a small set of individuals in innovation teams – it’s a change across the business and throughout the systems it operates in. What I find most encouraging is the amount of effort put into product development and business model research to turn Kingfisher’s circular economy vision into a reality.

The innovation I’m seeing at Kingfisher, and in pioneering businesses elsewhere, makes me optimistic for the future. When we started working on the concept of a circular economy, it immediately appeared as a tangible solution to the challenges brought about by resource constraints. Having demonstrated its potential and now seeing pioneering companies actively engaged in the transition, I have never felt more convinced.