Newsletter March 2022

biochar cladding

My clients often feel that they have very little power to influence the sustainability of their customers and suppliers. This depends on how you define influence.

Can we source cost-effective sustainable raw materials immediately? No. Can we ensure that customers will pay extra for more sustainable products or service? No. Can we start conversations that nudge others in our supply chain in that direction? Absolutely.

When companies come to me to help them prepare for the circular economy, it’s generally not because they’ve had a ‘road to Damascus’ experience. Typically, it’s instigated by a query from a customer asking about sustainable policy and practices.

It’s interesting to see companies react strongly to request from their own customers yet dismiss the power of their influence on suppliers, and when they do, they’re often shocked at how quickly it spurs suppliers to act. In fact, sometimes we find that suppliers are already doing quite a bit on sustainability, but no one ever asked about it.

Change can be hard, change can be slow, but change offers opportunity. Let’s use our influence to bring positive change into our own supply chains.

Not sure how to transition to the circular economy, or just want to make your business more sustainable, request a free 30min chat at

And now for this month’s circular economy news –

Breaking News – Ireland’s circular economy bill was published today. Along with the introduction of a levy on single-use coffee cups, the bill will introduce mandatory segregation of waste and an incentivised charging regime for commercial waste, similar to what exists for the household market. (I will do a full review of this as soon as I’ve had time to consider it)

Biochar cladding (see top photo) by German start-up Made of Air produces bioplastic from forest and farm waste that sequesters carbon and can be used to make objects including cladding.

Polyester recycling trial receives seed funding from UK’s largest safety supplier

The Circular Cities ClimAccelerator is open for applications until the 10th of April and includes Financial support of up to €18,000 per start-up team

Check out my new article –  A guide to LCA and carbon calculators.

This isn’t a new article but it’s news to me. Scientists think flame retardants might be causing an epidemic of hypothyroidism in cats (2017)

Arup and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation launch a circular building toolkit

Move over offsetting, it’s time for insetting

Hemp rebar is currently in development at the USA’s Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. It aims to be a low-cost, low-carbon alternative to standard steel rebar that also avoids the problem of corrosion, extending the lifespan of concrete structures.

Is it time for TV & film sets to be made from cardboard?

A run down of positive sustainable developments in the UK in Jan 2022 by Adam Strudwick, Principal at design practice Perkins&Will

Want to green your business but don’t know where to start? Check out the governments free Green For Micro programme

Glass facades are “the main culprit” for billions of annual bird deaths

Starting in September 2022, the Waste and Circular Economy Leaders programme supports businesses to improve their waste management policies and develop a detailed action plan for their business anchored in Ireland’s Waste Action Plan for a Circular Economy.

How France is putting the circular economy into action

Canadian company Carbicrete has developed a method for sequestering carbon in concrete, claiming its product captures more carbon than it emits.

Supported by HSBC and run by the Sustainable Restaurant Association the campaign #oneplanetplate calls on chefs to get behind sustainable food choices

The first self-charging electric train is being used by an Australian mining company

Watch a webinar on healthy buildings hosted by the Alliance of Sustainable Building Products

Germany to spend $220bn for industrial transformation by 2026

‘At 1.5℃ warming above pre-industrial levels, the new IPCC report projects that, for example, children under 12 will experience a fourfold increase in natural disasters in their lifetime, and up to 14% of all species assessed will likely face a very high risk of extinction. This is our best-case scenario.’

Salone del Mobile announces 60th anniversary edition with focus on sustainability. 

Scottish energy bar maker Unwrapped is now using reusable, returnable beeswax wraps for their bars

The Royal Mint in the UK is to build a plant to turn the countries electronic waste into gold 

Are you ready for the UK’s forthcoming Plastic Packaging Tax? Surveys suggest most companies aren’t, which is startling given that it’s coming into effect on April 1st, 2022.

“The circular economy is needed to get to net-zero emissions”. Designers and brands must go beyond recycling and focus on making bigger, systems-level changes to help the world move to a circular economy and ultimately reach its net-zero goals, says Ellen MacArthur.



Published by Elaine Butler

I am a circular design consultant helping manfacturers prepare for the circular economy