The con­cept of the cir­cu­lar econ­omy con­tin­ues to gain trac­tion across the globe. Clos­ing the Loop

Norway-Asia Business Review - - S NAPSHOTS - CHEYENNE HOLLIS

The idea of ex­tract­ing the max­i­mum value from re­sources while keep­ing them in use for as long as pos­si­ble is in­creas­ingly im­por­tant as re­sources dwin­dle and the en­vi­ron­ment suf­fers.

A 2015 pa­per pub­lished in the aca­demic jour­nal Sci­ence es­ti­mated the amount of plas­tic in the world’s oceans ranges from any­where be­tween 4.7 and 12.8 mil­lion met­ric tons. This caused alarm among the sci­ence com­mu­nity, but did not to­tally res­onate with the pub­lic un­til a story broke about a dead whale wash­ing ashore in Spain with 64 pounds of plas­tic de­bris in its stom­ach. Mean­while, sim­i­lar oc­cur­rences in Nor­way and Thai­land hit closer to home.

“The pic­tures of the whales with a stom­ach full of plas­tic as well as other in­jured an­i­mals was a real eye opener for the pub­lic,” Dr Tine Rørvik, Global

Di­rec­tor Cir­cu­lar Econ­omy at SCG, says. “Both busi­nesses and peo­ple saw this and started to fully un­der­stand the mag­ni­tude of the prob­lem. This aware­ness led to a push to more sus­tain­able op­tions and has helped ac­cel­er­ate the cir­cu­lar econ­omy move­ment.”

Dr Rørvik ad­mits there are quite a few def­i­ni­tions of cir­cu­lar econ­omy cur­rently be­ing pro­moted but as it re­lates to SCG, the focus is on the re­cir­cu­la­tion of re­sources within the value chain. Ul­ti­mately, the min­imis­ing of re­source us­age should still pro­vide max­i­mum ben­e­fits to all stake­hold­ers as well as the na­ture.

The con­glom­er­ate has been at the fore­front in or­der to evolve its busi­ness in a sus­tain­able man­ner. Ear­lier this year, SCG hosted its an­nual Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Sym­po­sium in Bangkok where much of the em­pha­sis was placed on cir­cu­lar econ­omy. The event brought to­gether col­lab­o­ra­tors from the govern­ment, pri­vate sec­tor and civil so­ci­ety and touched on how the cir­cu­lar econ­omy model could be ap­plied in daily life and find­ing ways to im­prove waste man­age­ment strate­gies. Ad­di­tion­ally, Dr Rørvik was ap­pointed to her new role to be a part of the team guid­ing SCG’s ef­forts.

“We want to con­stantly im­prove and our goal is to de­velop our strat­egy in or­der to stop the leak­age of ma­te­ri­als into na­ture. We don’t want to see valu­able ma­te­ri­als end­ing up as waste in the land or sea,” Dr Rørvik ex­plains.

She adds that it is im­por­tant to work through­out the value chain from feed­stock, through raw ma­te­ri­als, prod­ucts, all the way to the con­sumer. For in­stance in re­cy­cling plas­tic food pack­ag­ing, the en­tire sys­tem needs to

be en­gaged to be suc­cess­ful. Per­haps, the most dif­fi­cult chal­lenge in cre­at­ing a cir­cu­lar econ­omy is waste in­fra­struc­ture, part of this is some­what lack­ing in re­gions like South­east Asia.

“In Europe, we al­ready have several pieces of the in­fra­struc­ture in place espe­cially when it comes to the col­lec­tion and sort­ing of plas­tics,” Dr Rørvik states. “In Asia, we need to focus on build­ing a more ex­ten­sive sys­tem for col­lec­tion and sort­ing of plas­tic. If we can get im­proved in­fra­struc­ture cre­ated in the re­gion that en­cour­ages re­cy­cling, it will make it eas­ier for more com­pa­nies to be­come a part of the cir­cu­lar econ­omy. These ef­forts can start small and be built up over time.”

How­ever, this re­quires sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment as new technologi­es need to be im­ple­mented and even de­vel­oped and cur­rent meth­ods im­proved upon. Dr Rørvik points out this takes time, espe­cially in places where the col­lec­tion of re­cy­cled ma­te­ri­als is in­ef­fi­cient or non-ex­is­tent. In these cases, the lo­cal govern­ment needs to help stim­u­late this ac­tiv­ity through rules, reg­u­la­tions and co­op­er­a­tion with the in­dus­try.

SCG is work­ing on mul­ti­ple fronts to spur the move­ment to­wards be­com­ing a cir­cu­lar econ­omy. It is con­nect­ing with many in­dus­tries and dis­ci­plines as well as gov­ern­ments. Some of these ef­forts are al­ready start­ing to bear fruit. For ex­am­ple, the com­pany show­cased cir­cu­lar econ­omy-based en­vi­ron­men­tal in­no­va­tions to com­mu­ni­ties and at­ten­dees at its SD Day 2018.

In­no­va­tions in­clude float­ing so­lar so­lu­tions, both ground-mounted and rooftop so­lar in­stal­la­tions, the ver­mi­com­post­ing fer­tilis­ers from or­ganic sludges, the re­use of gas waste in the man­u­fac­tur­ing process and fish homes made out of ma­rine de­bris and mu­nic­i­pal waste to pre­serve ma­rine ecol­ogy.

SCG also re­vealed its Re­cy­cled Plas­tic Road, a pi­lot project pro­duced by col­lab­o­ra­tive ef­forts be­tween SCG and Dow Thai­land Group. Plas­tic waste, such as plas­tic bags, was col­lected at SCG of­fices and com­mu­ni­ties through­out Ray­ong’s Map Ta Phut Mu­nic­i­pal­ity and placed into an as­phalt mix­ture to make roads in the RIL In­dus­trial Es­tate.

“SCG has an open mind­set when it comes to find­ing so­lu­tions and new in­no­va­tions,” Dr Rørvik ex­plains. “Both busi­ness and cor­po­rate so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity are im­por­tant to us and we want to take the lead in the de­vel­op­ment of the cir­cu­lar econ­omy.”

PHOTO

PHOTO

Above left: SCG’S Re­cy­cled Plas­tic Road project saw plas­tic waste placed into an as­phalt mix­ture to make roads in the RIL In­dus­trial Es­tate. Above: Dr Tine Rørvik was re­cently named Global Di­rec­tor Cir­cu­lar Econ­omy at SCG to help lead the com­pany’s ef­forts in this field

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