With increasing attention for the circular economy, more and more companies are aware that our way of consuming is reaching its limits. This year earth-overshoot-day already took place on August 8, meaning that on this day we used more of nature than the planet can renew in a whole year. It makes you think: What heritage am I passing on to the next generation? And what can I do to leave a positive impact on this planet?
What is your legacy for the next generation?
Over the past months Innoboost and the TUDelft have developed a six step methodology to get to a circular business. In this blog we share the learnings of our project with Boska Holland in which we learned a lot on the first building block ‘Internal visioning’.
Creating a positive impact requires leadership
As he lead Boska Holland into its fourth generation, Martijn Bos asked himself these questions as well. After starting out as a blacksmith in Bodegraven in 1896, this family company has since become the largest producer of accessories for cheese, also known as Cheesewares. With his team we explored what Boska can do to create a positive impact, which resulted in a lot of interesting discussions.
Where do we start?
One of our learnings is that a lot can be done to create a positive impact. From small actions that can be taken now, such as installing solar panels and driving electric vehicles to the office, to bigger steps for the future, such as changing materials and reusing products. But inheriting a company teaches you to stay close to the heart of the company and make careful decisions. Because if you invest in a positive impact, you also want it to truly make a difference. It’s a true quest to find a win-win situation for the environment, society and your business.
Visualizing where you stand and defining your goal
What helped in these discussions is to clearly identify the company's current status and to clearly define where you want to be in a few years. For this we used the ‘Risk to Opportunity’ model. From improving labour conditions as the law requires, to using less materials which also save costs, the eventual goal is to create circular business.
From Risk to Opportunity model by Christiaan Kraaijenhagen
The way to circular business
For a lot of companies generating profit is based on product replacement. If we want to sell more, the previous product has to become obsolete. But what if Boska can remain the owner of Cheesewares and customers pay for a good time instead of just functional cheesewares? It sure is in line with their mission to ‘'help everyone enjoy cheese'.
Open the discussion
This requires a radical change of doing business and as the ‘Risk to opportunity’ model shows, this does not happen overnight. When Ray Anderson of Interface declared in 1994 that they wanted to eliminate all their negative impact by 2020 they were a long way from reaching that goal. 22 years later, they reduced CO2 emissions by 90% on European production sites, which is more than any company has ever done.
More companies are following this example. Fairphone is fighting for fairer electronics, stating that they do as much as they can to source conflict-free minerals and use recycled materials. H&M has declared it wants to become 100% circular, thereby enforcing the entire fashion industry to think about the way they are doing business.
What this teaches us is that changing your business to create a positive impact, starts by opening the discussion and realizing where you stand. Only then can we climb up the hill step-by-step to become a circular company.
Boska Holland has taken the first steps in this journey. Where is your company standing on the ‘Risk to Opportunity’ model’ and do you promise to take steps to make the next generation ‘Say Cheese’ to the future?
Stay tuned for more inspiration in the upcoming weeks. Are you interested in more cases and/or discussion? Join our inspiring breakfast 19 January 2017.