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Lorna James of BISCI

Small steps towards circularity

“We want to start spreading and gaining knowledge, because it’s quite a new topic”

Lorna James, Brightlands Institute for Supply Chain Innovation (BISCI)

LIOF's circulariteitsevent

Duurzaamheid en circulaire economie zijn begrippen waar we de komende jaren niet meer omheen kunnen. In een wereld waar grondstoffen schaarser worden en de druk op het milieu toeneemt, is het van cruciaal belang dat bedrijven nadenken over hoe ze hun bedrijfsmodellen kunnen aanpassen om duurzamer te opereren. Tijdens het LIOF circulariteitsevent presenteerde Lorna James van het Brightlands Institute for Supply Chain Innovation (BISCI) de basisstappen om te komen tot een circulair businessmodel. Wij spraken Lorna. Deze bijdrage is in het Engels.

Who is Lorna James?

Lorna moved to Maastricht for her Master in Sustainability Science, Policy and Society at Maastricht University. After graduating, she stayed at the university to join the Brightlands Institute for Supply Chain Innovation (BISCI). As a part of this expertise and innovation center, she spearheads awareness and collaborations in the field of circularity. “There’s some really cool stuff going on! BISCI explores the options on where we can contribute to supply chain innovation, and in the circular ecosystem specifically, contribute to circular supply chain innovation with a focus on logistics”, Lorna explains. “We want to start spreading and gaining knowledge, because it’s quite a new topic.”


Small steps towards circularity


1. Create space and time to take small steps

Becoming circular takes lots of patience. You can’t say ‘tomorrow I’ll be a circular company’, that’s just not how it works. However, small first steps can be taken on a short term.

The first one Lorna mentions is to make time for sustainability. “If we really want to be doing something, do something about the way we treat our world, we must make time for it”, she starts. “Create space and time for change. Block half an hour in your agenda to make that phone call, send that email. Whatever it might be, it’s a small step towards circularity.”

2. Educate yourself

If you’re new to the topic, it can feel massive and overwhelming, Lorna warns. “Be gentle and do things that work for you. A nice way to educate yourself about circularity and circular economics, is by reading books or listening to podcasts”, she suggests. “I have a list of books and podcasts that I find very helpful and inspiring!”


To start with podcasts, Lorna recommends The Circular Economy Show from the Ellen Macarthur Foundation. Another very accessible podcast is Degrees, which it about planet-saving careers. In the Circular Economy Podcast, inspiring people tell about their solutions for making the circular economy happen.


When it comes to books, Lorna has a long list of recommendations. She mentions The Story of Stuff. “It’s quite an old book now, since it’s published in 2007, but it maps the linear economy in a very accessible way. A mind-blowing book!”, Lorna says. “Also, Cradle to Cradle is one of the original books around the concept of circularity and how we can bring our resources back to become the cradle of new products. These are the bread and butter around circularity. Must-reads!”


Another quick win and also a way to educate yourself, is getting certifications. To become certified as B-Corp, is an excellent goal. “But you can also get certified on a personal level”, Lorna explains. “TU Delft and Wageningen University, for example, have a couple of a few week courses on different topics. It helps you to make a positive change in your organization as a professional.”

3. Talk. Just talk!

Communication is key. Lorna: “Talking is so influential! It can spark other people and organizations to take action. If you’re the only one in the company who wants to set sustainability goals, it can feel quite overwhelming. And so, the idea of just saying ‘I would like to’ or ‘I was thinking about’ takes down that barrier and invites people to be talking about it as well and take action together.”

The bottom line is, you can’t become circular on your own. You need a tribe to face the obstacles with and find a solution that works. “We’re only one small part of a giant system. We have problems, but the solutions likely lie outside of what we can see or influence. That’s why we have to think of new futures, new solutions. Together. Sitting in silence is unlikely to give us those new answers. Together, we hold the keys to many different doors.”

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