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PA OPINION

The future’s bright

We believe the future is firmly in our hands. It’s up to all of us how we use resources, prioritise investment in technologies to better our people and planet, and prepare the next generation to lead. That sense of purpose guides our approach to our work with clients.

The many facets of sustainability

Sustainability is a defining challenge of our times. And it’s time to step up. Sustainability is an essential element of progress – in how we do business, how we overcome global challenges, and how we support and learn from future generations.

There’s value in the circular economy

Much of what we produce ends up in landfill, with only a small fraction of the value we put into making things recovered after use. With a finite level of resources, volatile commodity prices and a growing global consumer middle class, business needs to change.

Today’s economy is primarily linear, and follows a ‘take, make, use, and dispose’ model, relying on large quantities of cheap, easily accessible materials and energy. We need to work towards a ‘circular economy’. This aims to get the most value from, and make the best use of, products, components and materials at all times. It means focusing on consuming services rather than purchasing assets and maximising inherent value in products and by-products. It will inevitably mean reducing material and energy costs, reusing, refurbishing and recycling.

We think this is vital. That’s why we’re a member of the CE100, a group of leading global organisations seeking to accelerate the transition to a circular economy, set up by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Members include Unilever, Philips, Apple, Cisco, Google, Nike, eBay and Ikea. The Foundation estimates that the circular economy will create in excess of €1 trillion in value in Europe alone by 2025. We’re leading thinking and activity around how business can get better at selling products that have multiple lives and the potential of the sharing economy. We’re working with clients to advance the move to a circular economy by building reusability into appliances for large manufacturers.

And we’ve joined forces with start-up Skipping Rocks Lab to take on one of the biggest challenges facing the world – finding an alternative to plastic waste. Together we’ve helped design Ooho – a completely biodegradable (and edible) drinks container.

Our 2017 annual review

Find out more

Disruptive technologies are at the heart of overcoming global challenges

The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide valuable guidance for where our priorities for investment should lie. They’re 17 pledges to overcome some of the biggest challenges the world faces by 2030 – challenges like poverty, inequality and environmental degradation. Business engagement is key to driving progress in those areas. Achieving the SDGs represents a US $12 trillion commercial opportunity. Business is already making efforts, but at the current pace the global community risks coming up short. To date, efforts to accelerate progress towards the SDGs have largely focused within individual organisations and their existing value chains.

We’re members of the UN Global Compact, the UN’s global business network. Our CEO, Alan Middleton, chaired a panel discussion at the Leaders Summit in New York in September 2017 focused on how organisations can achieve breakthrough innovation in pursuit of the SDGs. We highlighted the need for organisations to strive for breakthrough innovation – looking beyond incremental change to find new business models that deliver both societal and economic outcomes. And we continue to advocate for how disruptive technologies will accelerate progress by enabling organisations to operate in new and far more sustainable ways – while seizing huge commercial opportunities. They’re available now and we’re helping clients develop strategies and solutions using them.

Young people fulfilling their potential will create a better future for all of us

We support the leaders of today and develop the leaders of tomorrow. The promise young people hold inspired us to form a partnership with Teach First, an organisation that aims to end inequality and make sure no child’s success is limited by their background. In 2017 we worked on updating their careers and employment programme.

We run an annual competition for schools and colleges to encourage innovation and programming and coding skills. In 2017 we were looking for inventions to make life better for people with conditions that limit their ability to do things the rest of us take for granted. For 2018, our sixth year, we asked them to do no less than save the planet: addressing the main challenges – energy use, food production and scarcer resources. We’re also joining forces with Career Ready, a UK-wide charity linking employers with schools and colleges to open up the world of work to young people. Together we’re running Springboard: a week-long programme for 16- and 17-year-olds in our London office.

Contact the circular economy team

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