What we call “technology” is actually a narrow description of a practice including mechanics, electronics and computer science. This confusion is hampering human development, especially when the expectation is on not developing financial and social technology but demanding mechanical solutions when simple agreements could suffice. Modern technology is failing, we are not addressing the challenges in front of us. Our very use of language in this case is holding us back and preventing us from thinking clearly.
Understanding the circular economy needs you to have a grounding in physics, biology, economics supply chain and several other disciplines.
To help you apply circular economy thinking in your work we have developed a series of guides, presentations, videos and workshops that gives you the essentials without having to study these disciplines.
First presented at the Caux Foundation conference on Trust and Integrity in the Global Economy (TIGE), a 40-minute overview of the absolute essentials explains:
- Two main cycles – and the absolutely essential crossover points that should always be monitored.
- Three elements of the circular economy, their cycles, their essential differences and why understanding them will help you grasp circularity.
- Four spheres, their interaction points essential to pinpoint in all supply chain and economic activity.
We often hear about how hard it is to change the course of large ships, and as an analogy our current economic system seems to be hard to turn away from its course of counter-sustainability. However, large tankers DO make it into port. I would like to offer the idea that our economy can change course too. As with large ships, we need to understand and master the controls. Very few talk about accounting and sustainability. That is a shame, as several built-in features (and some easy to build in) could offer a way to turn the economy around. It’s not rocket science and it would be a big leap forward!
Continue reading “OPINION: Accounting needs to adapt to the circular economy”
We can envisage a balance sheet from which it is possible to glean the current state of the firm’s investment in circularity. A worked example is given below. Note that by circular infrastructure we mean infrastructure that:
- runs (or can run) on renewable energy
- uses recycled materials and recycles materials
|THE TRANSITIONAL COMPANY|
|PERIOD ENDED 31/12/2016|
|CURRENT ASSETS||CURRENT LIABILITIES|
|Cash||200 000 €||Accounts payable||0 €|
|Accounts receivable||0 €||Accrued Expenses||0 €|
|Inventory||0 €||Taxes owed||0 €|
|TOTAL CURRENT ASSETS||200 000 €||Long term debt||0 €|
|TOTAL CURRENT ASSETS||0 €|
|PROPERTY AND EQUIPMENT|
|*Circular Infrastructure||100 000 €||LONG TERM DEBT|
|*Non-circular Infrastructure||50 000 €||*Loans for Circular investment||100 000 €|
|Less depreciation||-4 000 €||*Loans for other infrastructure investment||30 000 €|
|NET FIXED ASSETS||146 000 €||Other loans|
|TOTAL LIABILITIES||130 000 €|
|OTHER ASSETS||STOCKHOLDERS EQUITY|
|Licence||0 €||Paid in Capital||0 €|
|Goodwill||0 €||Retained Earnings||0 €|
|TOTAL OTHER ASSETS||0 €||TOTAL NET WORTH||0 €|
|TOTAL ASSETS||346 000 €||TOTAL LIABILITIES AND NET WORTH|
|*Percentage circular infrastructure value||67%||*Percentage investment loans for circular infrastructure||77%|
As the example above shows, the infrastructure is 67% circular. In terms of loans the 77% invested in circularity gives a degree of transparency for investors. For example, if investors think that regulations will become stricter in future, then the investment is sound.
Extended Profit and Loss Statement
An extended profit and loss statement can also be created as shown below.
From this you can derive measures like % of sales of circular products, cost of circular technology, circular vs non-circular expenses and trends over time. This again creates transparency for the capability of the firm to operate in an environmental way.
|PERIOD ENDED 31/12/2016|
|*Circular product sales||50 000 €|
|*Non-circular sales||100 000 €|
|Net sales||150 000 €|
|*Renewable energy||2 000 €|
|*Non-renewable energy||2 000 €|
|*Non-circular materials purchase||2 500 €|
|*Circular materials purchase||2 500 €|
|Other costs of good sold||100 €|
|GROSS INCOME||140 900 €|
|*Renewable energy||2 000 €|
|*Non-renewable energy||4 000 €|
|*Non-circular materials purchase||3 000 €|
|*Circular materials purchase||10 000 €|
|*Repairs and maintenance on linear infrastructure||20 000 €|
|*Repairs and maintenance on circular infrastructure||30 000 €|
|*Costs for waste elimination, non-recycled||2 000 €|
|TOTAL OPERATING EXPENSES||71 000 €|
|Other income||0 €|
|Other expenses||0 €|
|NET INCOME BEFORE TAXES||69 900 €|
|TAXES||25 000 €|
|NET INCOME||44 900 €|
|Circular products 50/150 75%
Renewable energy 2/6 50%
Circular materials 10/13 77%
Circularity lost to waste 15%
costs 30/50 60%
At a Stockholm seminar on the 18th January held by the Baltic Works Commission, scientists, government officials and NGOs came together to discuss the dying briny depths on their doorstep: the Baltic Sea. The general consensus is one of emergency where technology provides an as yet unproven ray of hope. Without bold investments, policy changes and some bold pilot studies – worst case – the whole sea could turn in to a dead and decaying algal soup. I presented a solution with economic incentives based on Environmental Fiscal Reform.
At a Stockholm seminar on the 18th January held by the Baltic Works Commission, scientists, government officials and NGOs came together to discuss the dying briny depths on their doorstep: the Baltic Sea. The general consensus is one of emergency where technology provides an as yet unproven ray of hope. This is only if the countries surrounding the Baltic are ready for bold investments, policy changes and some bold pilot studies. If nothing is done, the nutrients contained in the dead sea floor could flow into the water body and – worst case – cause the whole sea to turn in to a dead algal soup. Continue reading “The Baltic: a dying sea on the doorstep of industrial giants”
The idea seems logical: when a product or material enters the economy it should stay there – if it comes from below the ground. If it comes from nature it can return at a rate the eco-system can absorb it. The problem is, we are living in a society that has been weaving a complicated web of laws, rules and, taxes and fees since money was created. At the moment it just doesn’t pay. Ushering in the circular economy means making sure it pays by dismantling a few parts of this framework and replacing others. But where to start? Are there existing points of control that can be adapted to stimulate circularity? This article identifies a few essentials. Continue reading “A circular economy needs a framework of rules and financial incentives to work”
Economic Fiscal Reform calls for the economic system to align with the twin purposes of preserving and indeed restoring the environment whilst providing a standard of living for citizens. Up to now, these purposes have not been central to the way economics has been practiced. We are, however, facing a pressing situation: soil degradation, atmospheric warming and mineral depletion are forcing us to rethink. The idea of the circular economy – where biological and mineral material circulate in the economy without being deposited – is gaining ground. Continue reading “The economics of the circular economy”