THRIVE: Small Business in the Circular Economy

Attendees to Small Business Week on Southbank are invited to discover the opportunities presented by the Circular Economy at Griffith University, Southbank at 10am on May 30.

10am May 30, 226 Grey St

Circular Economy opportunities in Australia alone represent billions of dollars of dormant value that can be released by Small and Medium Enterprises focused on the sector. “Many companies assume that the Circular Economy is specifically focused on waste,” said lead strategist for Great Notion, Geoff Ebbs, “The truth is that it is focused on wasted value.”

Business owners and managers attending the workshop at QCA Grey St South Bank will be brought up to speed on strategies, tools and opportunities to engage with the Circular Economy.

Dr Rob Hales, Director of Griffith Sustainability will launch a short course in the Circular Economy aimed directly at small business.

The course has been developed in conjunction with CELabs, a Circular Economy laboratory funded by the Qld Government to engage 65 corporates in building a template for the Circular Economy that will be presented at the inaugural Circular Economy Conference in Finland in June.

Marjon Wind of the CELab will outline the project in detail.

Free tickets are available to attend the event, information packs and vouchers to hands-on workshops are available for $125.

Unpacking the Circular Economy

The circular economy differs from a linear economy because the output of one process is the input of another.

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The available outputs of the food production are uneaten vegetable matter and sewage from which we can harvest nutrients, energy, water and solid waste. Natural ecosystems are circular in that plants and animals accumulate nutrients and grow during their life, and then release those nutrients back to the environment as they excrete, or when they die.

An ecosystem is a circular economy built of component linear processes. An ant nest organizes and concentrates nutrients that form a valuable supply for nearby trees or scavenging beetles. A tree accumulates resources and stores them in the form of timber.

A specific ecology may also rely on external cycles. A rainforest, for example, relies on a larger circular system for its water. The water cycle injects water into the rainforest which releases it to the sea. The rainforest is also a net user of energy. Sunlight powers the growth of the forest, and is the primary source of energy for all other life forms.

Of course, sunlight also powers the water cycle, evaporating water and driving the winds that move clouds around the earth. Our fossil fuels come from ancient forests. The only sources of energy on earth that are not derived from sunlight are the gravitational pull of the tides and the geothermal energy from our molten core.

When planning a circular economy, it is critical that we take note of this net use of energy, and the reliance on larger cycles, so that we do not cripple each component of the ecosystem with artificial constraints. Linear processes can participate in a circular economy if their waste provides valuable inputs to other areas of the economy. 

Read earlier articles in this series

Inspiration and perspiration

Edison went through many thousands of versions of the electric light globe, literally, before finding one that worked and could be mass produced.

Photo credit: Richard Warren Lipack / Wikimedia Commons.

It is these thousands of iterations that led to his famous observation that success is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.

The one percent inspiration is critical, though. Without an idea that drives us forward, we would never keep going through the endless repetition of trial and error that builds success.

It is that inspiration that builds staff and customer loyalty and that gives your brand meaning.

Many branding tools, discussions and seminars, including Simon Sinek’s famous Why Ted Talk, emphasise the importance of passion in building your unique brand identifier.

But inspiration has another, deeper significance for business in tough times.

Nearly all businesses, and business models, have a reasonable chance of succeeding when the economy is booming, but we need something special when the going gets rough. The customer and staff loyalty, and their willingness to pay for our unique value, is an important ingredient in the recipe for survival.

The challenge in tough times is to find that competitive edge that allows us to thrive while others are struggling. Some businesses become more aggressive, use their market position to dominate their competitors, or their global reach to drive down costs. These strategies are exploitative. In the current global economic climate, these strategies exacerbate the problems we all face, not ameliorate them.

The premise of Great Notion is that innovation and inspiration provide a non-exploitative differentiator and allow us to build stronger, long lasting relationships with our stakeholders. We can expand by exploiting others, or we can outcompete them by being better, and being better in this context usually means being smarter.

Putting your inspiration at the core of all your business practice, or identifying the inspiration that belongs at the heart of your business practice allows you to build value, based on your values, rather than on exploiting your customers, staff or suppliers.

That is the way to build thriving, viable, sustainable business. Now, that’s a great notion.

Qld to break Greenwash barrier

Minister Enoch argued recently to increase the levy on dumping waste in landfill

Launching the Circular Economy Lab in Fortitude Valley yesterday evening, the Minister for Arts, Science and Environment, Leeanne Enoch, said that Queensland has committed $150,000 to the lab as part of its commitment to protect the natural assets of the State, such as the Great Barrier Reef.


Recycling is just rubbish

In the light of last month’s detailed analysis of the shortcomings of plastic recycling that ran in The Conservation: we decided to reprint this article from Geoff Ebbs’ 2007 book – Sydney’s Guide to Saving the Planet.

Statistics have not been updated and refer to 2007. Shockingly, most of these numbers are worse today than they were 12 years ago.

The business of waste

Our major metropolitan areas are running short of landfill and it is being transported increasing distances. Sydney ships around 400,000 tonnes of waste to Woodlawn, near Canberra, every year. Domestic waste makes up around 30 per cent of the total waste produced  with more than 40 percent of that waste goes to land fill. The vast majority of domestic waste is still dumped.


SnöApe emodies Great Notion thinking

Snoape logo

Snöape’s founder, Benjamin Monteiro, studies business and marketing with Great Notion founder, Geoff Ebbs, at Griffith University. Launched in February 2019, Snöape is based on the business model developed with Geoff and embodies the Great Notion approach.

Ben decided to create a business in the way that he believes a business should be run.  Ben strives to operate his company with an altruistic approach; where the environment, his employees, and his customers are put first before profits. He is proud to own a business that cares about the quality of his products, from the materials used right down to the impact that they have on the earth.  He wants to create a better world; a world where products are not just made for the profiteering of companies, but a place where decisions are thoroughly thought-out, as every action has a consequence.