“We are so bound by time. By its order… But now I’m not so sure I believe in beginnings and endings. There are days that define your story beyond your life. Like the day they arrived.”  –“Arrival”

When it comes to business, we can easily fall into the stereotype of a linear mindset, believing it all starts from getting the customers and ends with offering them the products or services they expect. At the beginning of this March, however, we joined the 3-day circular economy course taught by Professor David Peck, visiting professor from Delft University of Technology. It is truly exciting and fascinating to see how an economy can become circular instead of linear, more sustainable to society and nature, yet still beneficial and doing the same amount of good to the company.

During the first half of our course, we were introduced to the difference between a linear and a circular economy, the history and development of the circular economy and the urgency of conducting business differently in response to a resource-constrained world. What was more exciting was that we learned about the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, a charity started by Ellen MacArthur, a yachtswoman inspired by the ocean during her earlier career,  which works with business and education to accelerate the transition to a circular economy. We later practised developing our own ideas with the circular business model using the business model canvas in a small group in the second half of our course, and shared our ideas for different industries, from fashion to manufacturing, from products to services.

The circular economy guided me not only to think in terms of business ethnics but also to consider business more as a dynamic ecosystem with limitations, rather than a fast-moving but dead machine. And I am more than happy to understand that as a business model, it connects with different aspects of what we studied during this year, from performance management to finance, from marketing to supply chain management.

“We are so bound by time. By its order… But now I’m not so sure I believe in beginnings and endings. There are days that define your story beyond your life. Like the day they arrived.”
Louise Banks, the linguist who learned the circle language by communicating with heptapods, the aliens which arrived on Earth, said this in the 2016 movie “Arrival”. Who wouldn’t say that the circular economy is not similarly logical in business?