Demystifying the circular economy to create new value for your business

By Vikram Varma, Co-founder of Thinkable Partners  January 13th, 2022

Planet Ark is proud to announce ThinkPlace and Thinkable Partners as the newest Technical Supporters of the ACE Hub. To celebrate, Thinkable Partner's Co-founder, Vikram Varma, writes about how the combined skills, knowledge and experience of ThinkPlace and Thinkable Partners will help facilitate the collaboration required to transition to a circular economy.

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Be it policy design at the highest levels of the government or worried parents who cannot afford another mortgage bill, people from every context — communities, businesses, governments — have woken up to the sound of a planet way past its deadline. Growth without sustainability is becoming redundant. To preserve the earth's finite resources and keep up with consumer demand, we must make a systemic transition from a linear 'take, make, use and dispose' approach to a circular economy strategy that keeps materials in circulation as long as possible. While the concept of reducing and reusing is apparent to all, it is easy to miscalculate and overlook the effort and investment required to transition to a circular economy. The process can be expensive, complex and, for established organisations with firmly embedded historical practices, may require significant changes to internal culture and leadership.

Facilitating collaboration at multiple levels

To shorten, close and slow down resource loops, it is important that all stages of a product's life cycle are taken into consideration to ensure the product, and its resources, are kept within the economy. This cannot be done by an individual entity on its own.

Key questions we must ask include:  

  • Could manufacturers take a more sustainable approach to their production processes using 'discarded materials'?

  • Could innovations in design reduce the number of materials required?

  • Could consumers and retailers be incentivised to adopt circular behaviours?

All this requires collaboration at different levels between an organisation, its supply chain, industry, government and all players involved in its wider value network. It also requires a shift in consumer mindsets to enable a successful transition to more circular practices. Facilitating this kind of collaboration across different stakeholder groups can be complex and challenging — this is where we step in.

ThinkPlace and Thinkable Partners are two like-minded organisations working together to make a positive impact on the ground. We support government and private sector programs with good design, research, insights and implementation in today's rapidly changing landscape.

ThinkPlace are experts in designing in complex systems using their deep expertise in human-centered design, research methods and innovation. While Thinkable Partners have extensive experience in implementing projects, large scale change and transformation programs in public and private sector organisations. Together, we have a global reach in a world that is becoming smaller due to technological advances, the increasing challenges of global warming, impacts of climate change and waste-producing linear supply chains.

We are passionate about shifting the status quo on circular economies to facilitate challenging and complex dialogue and create new value for organisations and their supply chains. We facilitate engagement with multiple and diverse perspectives by co-designing solutions to ensure that end-to-end solutions support circularity and the needs of all stakeholders.

How we've helped our clients achieve their sustainability goals

ThinkPlace and Thinkable Partners consultants have a combined three decades of experience helping transform organisations across many industries including government (local, state, and federal), manufacturing, supply chains and logistics. We engage with the complexity of how people experience products, services and regulations; how they navigate complex systems like health, education, energy or employment.

Our work is at the most systemic levels of government, and our innovation capability has been used by almost every federal agency in Australia and international organisations like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Johns Hopkins University, Doctors Without Borders and Red Cross.

We have committed to adopting and addressing the United Nations Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs) in every project we take on. Our diverse skills and experiences designing large-scale change enable us to drive sustainable transformation, amplify our impact on organisations and our environment, and in turn move the needle on the SDGs.

Some examples of our work in the sustainability and circular economy space include:

  • Facilitating stakeholder engagement for 'National Dialogue in the Circular Economy', a research project undertaken by CSIRO.

  • Providing recommendations on transitioning the Commercial and Industrial and Construction and Demolition sectors towards a circular economy for the Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment.

  • Improving community access to recovery, recycling and reuse services in the ACT.

  • Facilitating stakeholder engagement for the NSW EPA '20 Year Waste Strategy'.

  • Developing a method for recycling and reuse of wastewater chemicals for a packaging manufacturer.

  • Enhancing product traceability in the logistics and supply chain industry.

  • Introducing recycled material into rigid plastic containers as a competitive advantage.

Meet our Circular Economy Leads

Sneha Prasad, Executive Design Manager and the Circular Economy lead at ThinkPlace, is a world-class designer transitioning sectors to a circular economy. With a background in engineering, Sneha brings a holistic systems-thinking approach across sustainable practices in climate resilience and adaptation, environmental protection and resource recovery. 

Sneha has worked on policy recommendations and options for the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment to transition the Construction and Demolition and Commercial and Industrial sectors towards a circular economy. She is also currently working on a national waste (resource) visualisation platform for the Department, bringing a holistic ecosystem approach to its design. Sneha has formal training in Circular Economy Business Models from the Cambridge Judge Business School.

“This challenge to keep our planet sustainable requires us to design for generations ahead and with people across the system. We need to look at tools beyond the typical – systems thinking, futuring and scenario planning, behavioural change and planet-centric design,” Sneha says.

Michael Janic, Partner and Circular Economy lead at Thinkable Partners, is an expert in finding solutions to create positive impact. Michael disrupts the status quo and drives innovation across Australian industries. Unafraid to push boundaries, his strategies achieve sustainable business outcomes.

With a background in logistics, supply chain, procurement, transportation, operations and manufacturing, Michael brings with him diverse perspectives to shape strategies, drive cost efficiencies and achieve revenue growth. His experience spans over three decades including senior positions with Havi Logistics, Saphire Group, Amcor, Steinhoff, Coca-Cola Amatil and Southcorp Packaging.

“The time has come to ‘walk the-talk’ as a duty to care for the environment. We cannot continue to consume our way to a more sustainable world. Sustainability is the right thing to do, and transformation is the careful balance of meeting current needs and not compromising the ability of future generations to do the same,” Michael says.

We are excited to be Technical Supporters of the critical work Planet Ark does to support a sustainable future, and we strongly believe we will be able to accelerate the ACE Hub's mission to facilitate the transition to a circular economy in Australia.

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Vikram Varma, Co-founder of Thinkable Partners

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