The Circular Economy Officer

by Andy Polaine on December 26, 2015

in General

There’s an interesting short piece over at Sustainable Brands asking whether we need a new kind of CEO – a Circular Economy  Officer. They interviewed my brother who makes a good case for industrial designers:

Matt Polaine, former circular economy research lead at BT, says a key remit of any circular economy role should be to understand materials flows in both directions — upstream and downstream of the value chain. Such a function requires the ability to tap into different skill sets: design, procurement, compliance, product innovation, and insurance/risk expertise to name a few. Because of this, Polaine believes the skills of an industrial engineer stand out from the rest. “This mindset has to understand the materials, the way the product is manufactured, used, the user interface/service design, and the end-of-life aspect. They are also clear about aesthetics, the beauty of the product and experience in use. For the circular economy to flourish, the customer experience must work very well and promote advocacy.”

It’s clear how this thinking connects with service design’s aim to break down silos and embed joined-up thinking within organizations, but ultimately focused on a superb end experience for the customer or user. Without this last aspect, all the great technology or sustainable solutions in the world are for nought if customers just use something less circular but with a better experience. If we’re asking people to sacrifice something or change behaviours, we need to offer them something better in return. 

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