Economy for the Common Good – Our Future?

Economy for the Common Good – Our Future?

„Germans wish for a new economic order – to Germans, growth and money are not so important – the environment and social equality are much more so” Die Zeit 8/15/2012

 

Renowned German weekly newspaper “Die Zeit“ wrote on 8.15.2012: „Germans wish for a new economic order – to Germans, growth and money are not so important –
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Fairphone – Changes The Way Products Are Made

Fairphone – Changes The Way Products Are Made

This project has more to do with triggering change, rather than trying to solve all the problems in the world at once.Bas van Abel

 

Fairphone

„35 year-old Bas van Abel collaborated with 10 others to put together the first “fair” smartphone. A smartphone that doesn’t use any resources from conflict-zones, or the workforce of Chinese laborers in horrible conditions, nor does it involve filling up the bank accounts of the greedy rich. Sound naive? Bas van Abel, who launched the project 2 years ago, certainly is not. He knows that he’s not going to save the world with his Fairphone: ‚This project has more to do with triggering change, rather than trying to solve all the problems in the world at once.’This Dutch guy wants to demonstrate what we can achieve when we give it a go.“[1]The goal was to create a “fair” smartphone for consumers that had the technology and a competitive price on par with established providers, but one that was not created with the use of conflicted resources and unfair labor conditions. The team managed to produce the first batch of 20,000 phones through crowd funding. Since December 2013, the phone is available for sale online, unseen and untested, at a cost of 325 Euro a pop, and sent out via mail, I bought one too.

 

Fairphone’s mission

Roos van de Weerd, Fairphone’s public engagement manager, explains: „Our project can only exert influence on other, larger companies such as Apple or Samsung if consumers show that they want transparency, fair deals and decent wages. We try to raise awareness. So far this has worked quite well.People are happy that there is finally a player in the industry making an effort to push these changes. Our goal is not to be a manufacturer who sells the highest quantity of objects, but to have an effect so that the “big” fish among us can learn and will be either inspired or compelled to follow us.“[2]

 

What is a Fairphone?

Conflict-free, quality material

A smartphone contains around 30 different types of metals. Two of these, tin and tantalum, come from regions that are considered conflict-free, and should therefore help hinder any money from ending up in the pockets of warlords. Fairphone also supports the “Conflict-Free Tin Initiative”, a developmental aid project for the Congo, in which other companies such as Blackberry, HP, Motorola and Nokia are involved. There is a similar project for Tantalum called “Solutions for Hope“, founded by Motorola and supported by Fairphone and a great number of other electronic manufacturers.

 

Bas_van_AbelFair production

Fairphone is interested in long-term relationships with manufacturers in China, because it requires perseverance and higher numbers to change the Chinese attitude. But even China knows that every development should be taken seriously, because the market for smartphones is so fast-paced. Who would have thought ten years ago that Samsung and Apple would dominate the market, and Nokia would be nearly dead and gone? Fairphone tries to spearhead a set of standards for a new collaborative direction with Chinese manufacturers. Fair production means fair working conditions, consideration of social and environmental aspects, and acquiring raw materials in a sustainable way.

 

 

Smarter design and an end to “disposable” phones

Roos van de Weerd also had this to say: „In order to ensure that people don’t just throw away their cell phones after two years, we will offer replacement parts online on our web shop, so that people can easily replace parts that no longer work.“ (Okur 2013) „In addition, not only will the glass screen be more robust, it will be much easier to replace as well. Instead of using the thinnest glass possible, in which the touch panel and screen are integrated as one, it was decided to make them separate pieces. Because of this, the phone will be 5 grams heavier, and 0.2 millimeters thicker as planned, but the risk of breakage is thus significantly reduced. In addition, according to the manufacturer, the Fairphone will still function even if the toughened and scratch-resistant Dragontrail glass breaks.“[3]

 

[1] Bernau, V. (2013): Fairphone statt iPhone: Wie gerechte Smartphones produziert werden sollen, in sueddeutsche.de from 2/27/2013, download on 8/25/2013 at http://www.sueddeutsche.de/digital/fairphone-statt-iphone-wie-gerechte-smartphones-produziert-werden-sollen-1.1610920
[2] Okur, M. (2013): Wie fair ist das Fairphone?, in Wirtschaftswoche Green from 6/18/2013, download on 8/25/2013 at http://green.wiwo.de/interview-wie-fair-ist-das-fairphone/
[3] Labs, L. (2013): Auch das Fairphone wird in China gebaut, in heiseonline from 5/13/2013, download on 8/10/2013 at http://www.heise.de/newsticker/meldung/Auch-das-Fairphone-wird-in-China-gebaut-1861908.html

Photo Fairphone
Photo Bas van Abel from Fairphone

 

weekly excerpt from the book THE NEXT WAVE IN BUSINESS
wishing you a circular week
cheers, Stefan Götz+

 

Circular Economy & Fairphone – Inspiration from Nature

Circular Economy & Fairphone – Inspiration from Nature

 

Focus on higher purpose seems to be precluded when a leader is deeply rooted in ego because the currency oft he ego is fear, how can a leader be available to lead others in a conscious way if they are busy defending a fractured ego?Sarah Morris

 

Ellen MacArthur, one of the world’s best sailors, has constantly pushed things to the limit, ever since her love of sailing began. After achieving the great feat of breaking several world records, she felt that it was time for a new beginning in her life. She had learned one of life’s main principles while at sea: Not only to conserve the resources at hand on the boat, but also to follow the cycle of nature, and understand that in nature there is no waste. In the cycle of nature, everything is used, all that comes to life and all that decays. It is the food chain of nature – that which is “waste” becomes fuel for new life. Unfortunately, our current economy works in exactly the opposite way –in exponential periods, we operate as a “linear economy”“ instead of a „Circular Economy“ and with that, we reach the limits of our growth.

>> YouTube #11 – Ellen MacArthur, Rethinking the Future

Just imagine yourself experiencing a day, in the forest, on a lake, or on the seaside in a time warp of a year’s cycle within one day. Fast-forward your observation through the individual changes of the seasons – open up your senses, see it, hear it, feel it. Suppose you were standing next to a tree, what would you see? If you, like me, would imagine a ripe apple or plum tree in August, you could experience the maturity of the tree, hanging full of fruit, which would soon be harvested. After harvest time, the days get shorter, and the sunlight is less intense as autumn draws in. You will witness beautiful leaves in colors of yellow, brown and red. It’s time to let go. Perhaps pictures of the Indian summer on the east coast of the US come to mind. Over time, the trees become bare, leaves fall to the ground and begin to rot, as they provide the humus needed for a new cycle of trees after winter, the time of contemplation and reflection, in which the tree is preparing for spring, when it then unfolds its buds and draws from the nutrients of the humus layer from the previous year.

This is the natural cycle of nature, a perfectly coordinated and mutually dependent system, in which waste, for example, in the form of leaves, is not only used, but is anticipated – it is an integral part of nature’s design. It was through this observation of nature, and intense experiences at sea – 2500 miles away from civilization – combined with endless optimism, and the wish to contribute to a better world that Ellen MacArthur began to ponder how the existing ”either or” mindset of the economy and ecology could evolve into a newly interconnected reality. After years of learning, meeting with scientists, entrepreneurs and policymakers, she created the basic principle of the “Circular Economy“.

 

Ellen_MacArthur_Bryan_LedgardShe wasn’t the only one with this idea in mind. German eco-visionary Michael Braungart, chemist, process engineer and former Greenpeace environmental activist, already wrote a book in 2002, together with American architect William McDonough on the subject by the name of „Cradle to Cradle“. „If only people were to design products properly, so that they are either biodegradable or completely separable into recyclable parts, then they could put an end to the theme of conserving resources“[1], says Braungart. There is a new book on the shelf from this duo called “The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability–Designing for Abundance“. Bill Clinton wrote the foreword for this book. The message is as simple as it is effective.Growth is not a question of energy, but a question of material and design. A product should never be “hybrid”. It must either consist entirely of biodegradable or non-decomposing substances.

Material savings of 700 billion Dollars in „Consumer Goods“

Let’s be clear about this, the primary issue isn’t about climate neutrality, it’s about the intelligent use of our cyclical system of nature and how it can be adapted into product design and beyond for the design of business models. We’re also not just talking about resource efficiency, which is the goal of every business today, but mainly for monetary reasons. A McKinsey & Company report [2] estimates a potential global savings of 700 billion USD for the consumer goods sector alone.

Global potential for a 25 trillion Dollar Circular Economy

We’re especially referring to new entrepreneurial potential using the principle of Circular Economy. In 2010, Ellen MacArthur founded the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, whose sole aim is to explore this principle and to find ways in which it can be introduced in a practical way into the global economy and society. She has attracted very prominent supporters to this project. Founding partners include Cisco, British Telecom, B&Q, National Grid and Renault. According to a report in collaboration with McKinsey & Company, the shift towards a Circular Economy could generate 25 trillion USD annually for the global economy by 2025. (McKinsey 2013)

 

[1] Borchhardt, A. (2013): Kein Müll: Der Öko-Visionär Michael Braungart arbeitet an einer Zukunft, in der alles wieder verwertbar ist. Er will eine Welt ohne Abfall, eine Welt zum Prassen. Damit macht er sich nicht nur Freunde, in SZ from 8/21/2013, Süddeutscher Verlag, München, P. 3
[2] McKinsey & Company (2013): Towards the Circular Economy, Opportunities for the consumer goods sector, Executive Summary, No. 2/2013 Ellen
Photo of Ellen MacArthur by Bryan Ledgard

 

weekly excerpt from the book THE NEXT WAVE IN BUSINESS
wishing you a sustainable week
truly yours, Stefan Götz+

 

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