Businesses in the circular economy


By The Royal Netherlands embassy in Bratislava | | Facebook | Twitter

The term “circular economy” has become more and more frequent in everyday vocabulary. The circular economy can be defined as a new way of thinking, even a new business model – a system that continuously reuses materials to create added value. A system that can help to tackle the consequences of climate change, and also improves the quality of life.

The role of businesses in the circular economy

A transition to circular economy calls for a profound change in the way we work and produce, as well, as we design, teach, invest, and buy. To make the transition cross-sectoral partnerships are inevitable, alongside the interlinking of governments, knowledge institutions, and businesses. Many companies are aware of that fact, many are still hesitant to make the change. Almost no organization sees the imminent scarcity of raw materials as a driver, even though this is commonly presented as the urgent reason to switch to circular. Organizations are often not concerned about rising raw material prices, rather about the sales figures. Circular economy is logical and economically founded, the greatest challenge lies in the transition.

NOW is the time to explore the possibilities for your organization. By focusing on circularity before it becomes urgent, an organization can reap the greatest benefits, for example by attracting talented and passionate employees or as a basis to be more innovative and efficient. Urgency will also come from consumers that are making new demands. Change may involve trial and error, there are supporters and opponents. Cost-efficiency, innovation and commercial success remain at the top of priority list for most businesses. It is good to realize that precisely here circular economy is an ideal match. Opportunities, not threats, are the main drivers in the current economic system.

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An idea could be to start by raising awareness internally among your own employees in order to lay a strong foundation for integrating circular ambitions. Be ambitious, but don ́t try to be 100% circular straight away. It is important that the road is followed step-by-step and risks are kept manageable. Make sure the change will not cause shifting the burden from one area to another. By collaboration, make a supply chain and customers ready. More information about transferring to circular business model could be found also in the publication of Dutch authors (Guido Braam et al.) named Circular route. Pioneers are crucial for the realization of the circular economy. It calls for more than an isolated technological breakthrough; it goes beyond the boundaries of a single organization, it demands a new way of thinking and working – in partnership.

The Netherlands Chamber of Commerce provides a great opportunity with their members to become a frontrunner in this topic in Slovakia. Examples of many key areas that fall under circular economy can be found across chamber members: production of modern and bio-degradable plastic packaging, recycling of water, sustainable financing and investing,
smart logistics and mobility, consultancy, sharing economy, sustainable energy, food waste management, reuse of material, upcycling, and so on.

The Embassy promotes interesting Dutch practices in Slovakia. In February, the Embassy and Board Members of the Chamber met with State Secretary of Environment Norbert Kurilla to discuss how to join forces for an active promotion of sustainability and circular economy. The Netherlands are seen as one of the leading countries in putting eco-innovation into practice. These meetings are ongoing and we aim to establish soon with the Ministry of Environment the “Circular Economy Business Coalition” that will be a think-tank, a tool for awareness-raising, platform for education, and if all goes well with an efficient PR and rewarding the most active ones.

In addition, the Embassy is coordinator of meetings with over 10 Slovak stakeholders eager to establish the Slovak Circular Hotspot. Well, you are guessing right if you think inspiration is coming from the Netherlands and its Holland Circular Hotspot established in 2016 during the Dutch and Slovak Presidency in the Council of the EU. Dutch experts already visited Slovakia. The Embassy want to focus on institutionalizing the platform, upgrading existing business databases and good practices sharing, as well as extending possibilities of education for businesses, municipalities and activists. We can say the dynamics of circular economy are evident in Slovakia and opportunities are continuously presenting itself. Let us know if you want to be on board and be part of transition.