What’s the killer app for the circular economy? GreenBiz co-founder Joel Makower wanted to know. The quick answer is that no single magic button exists yet, if ever. As with so much of sustainability, however, the ideal endgame for circular principles is to become baked into every point of the product’s lifecycle along the line of design, supply chain, manufacture and beyond. “The killer app is that which is invisible,” said Nike’s VP of Business Innovation Cyrus Wadia, onstage Tuesday at VERGE 18 in Oakland. “We need to be embedding these attributes into high-performance products.” That’s the end goal, but where does business stand now? Take a step back. The term “circular economy” refers to three dimensions of a new economic model: ending waste and pollution; keeping products, materials and nutrients at the highest possible value for the longest possible time; and regenerating the natural resources and capital upon which economic systems depend. That’s according to Del Hudson, the Ellen MacArthur Fund’s head of U.S. and North America Operations. The British organization, which is accelerating the concept, advocates for next-level innovations and systemic shifts that most corporations have yet to follow (or lead, for that matter). Conversations are less about what it looks like to move away from the old “take, make, waste” linear model and more about how to partner to drive new, circular models forward, Hudson said. “It’s less about, ‘how do I apply this to my organization,’ and more about, ‘who do I collaborate with as I move to this transition.'” So what does that look like to Nike and Amazon?
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