December Monthly Briefing: Regenerative Business Models

Our year examining priority Actions for Business ends this month with a look at alternatives to the traditional economic model of take-make-waste, then repeat.

Of all the topics we’ve addressed, this is the one where, for me at least, the gap between opportunity and reality is most frustrating. We’re actually going backwards, according to data from the Circular Economy Foundation cited by one of our contributors here.

On the good news side of the equation, one positive outcome of the COP28 summit – behind the roller coaster will-they-won’t-they final text agreement – was nature-based solutions being put centre stage. We looked last month at just how much of world economic output is based on nature, with food supply accounting for a third of GHG emissions.

That said, regenerative models are about much more than agriculture. It’s a whole mindset shift from harm reduction to improvement, putting more back than you take out – yes to looking at natural capital, but don’t overlook the other essential factors – human, social, financial and productive. The language of depleting or building capital appeals to me (self-confessed accountant); net positive is another way of putting it. Our long-read contributor this month guides you through these various models and ways of thinking, to help you take your business in that direction.

A bonus read is a neat case study, from Bristol in the UK, showing how reuse is part of this equation too, with benefits to consumers as well as hard-pressed local authorities facing mounting waste disposal costs. (Full disclosure: I chair the board of trustees at a campaigning charity on electronic waste.)

Governments are waking up too, with right-to-repair legislation on both sides of the Atlantic, EU directives on moving to a circular economy and, of course, new corporate reporting rules coming. I rather suspect we’ll be talking about this next year as well.

In fact next year’s Actions for Business publication is in final edits as I write – watch this space come January. For now, let me sign off this year by offering very best wishes of the season to you and your loved ones. 

Visit the December Monthly Briefing here.

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