The Circular Economy Agenda for Corporate Sustainability and Responsibility

The Circular Economy Agenda for Corporate Sustainability and Responsibility

by Dr. Mark Camilleri
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Thursday, January 28, 2016 - 12:30pm


Most of the products we buy and consume are bound to reach their ‘end of life’ at some stage. To date, business and industry have customarily followed an economic model that is built on the premise of ‘take-make-consume and dispose’. When goods worn out or are no longer desired, they are often discarded as waste. Such a linear model also assumes that raw materials and resources are abundant, available and cheap to dispose of. However, the improper disposal of waste in landfills could cause health risks for society. Similarly, industrial and mining activities are causing resource depletion as well as pollution problems. The incineration of waste products also creates the need to dispose of residual toxic metals, including lead and mercury, which could also contaminate groundwater. Notwithstanding, it is envisaged that the reserves of some of globe’s key elements and minerals shall be depleted within the next century. At the same time, land degradation is constantly impacting on the natural environment, as arable land continues to disappear. In addition, plastic waste dumped into our seas and oceans is responsible for the deaths of millions of fish, seabirds, and sea mammals. Furthermore, the warming of the earth’s climate, that is one of the outcomes of carbon emissions from fossil fuels, is yet another serious problem facing today’s society.

The world’s growing populations and their increased wealth is inevitably leading to greater demands for limited and scarce resources. Boulding’s famous paper from 1966, “The economics of the coming spaceship Earth” anticipated that man will need to find his place in a cyclical ecological system which is capable of continuous reproduction of material. He went on to suggest that at the other end the effluents of the system are passed out into noneconomic reservoirs, including the atmosphere and the oceans. Of course, these ecological environments are not appropriated and do not enter into the exchange system. These contentious issues underline the perennial conflict between economic development and environmental protection. Today’s society and its economic models still rely too much on resource extraction and depletion. If solutions are to be found, the public must be encouraged to alter a number of its irresponsible behaviours.

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Dr Mark Camilleri has relevant academic experience in teaching and lecturing marketing, strategy and  operations management at undergraduate and post graduate levels (in the UK, Malta & Hong Kong). Recently, he developed a synergistic value (strategic CSR) model which leads to financial and strategic benefits for business practitioners. Dr Camilleri accepts consulting engagements with business enterprises, non-profit organisations and charitable foundations. He enjoys working with small business owners, scientists, artists and scholars to help them explore new sources of competitive advantage!