Accelerator: A Start-up to Support Circular Economy
When you google "circular economy," you get many definitions and descriptions in the top search results. Even though the circular economy is still in its infancy and, according to the think tank Circle Economy, only 8.6% of the materials produced on earth are recycled, more and more people and businesses are putting systems in place to transition away from a linear economic model. One such company is Google. The company announced that the three-month circular economy accelerator program would be available to a series of start-ups and non-profit organizations in the US and the Asia Pacific that are using technology to address environmental issues through reuse, refill, recycling, composting, and circular material use. The Asia-Pacific region is home to eight of the ten rivers that account for 90% of river-borne plastic in the ocean. According to Google, 40% of global consumption is anticipated to come from Asia by 2040. The concept of a circular economy is gaining attention for its potential to reduce emissions and raw material consumption, open up new market opportunities, raise consumption sustainability, and enhance resource efficiency. It is seen as a tool for slowing global warming and promoting long-term development.
According to Thye Yeow Bok, head of the startup ecosystem ‘Southeast Asia’ at Google, "While this linear economic model has led to a great deal of progress for humanity in a short time, it has also created environmental harm, injustice, and disparities - particularly for lower-income and under-resourced communities that are located near industrial areas where pollution is more prevalent." Being the area of the world most susceptible to the effects of climate change, the Asia Pacific is, as he claimed, an excellent place to start when innovating and developing circular economy solutions.
The accelerator program, scheduled to begin in February 2023, supports Google's 2030 objective of "maximizing its reuse of finite resources throughout its operations, products, and supply chains - while empowering others to do the same." The company launched this strategy back in 2019 at Circularity, the circular economy conference hosted by GreenBiz Group. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation's framework served as a template for the sub-goals and strategies it defined at the time to fulfil its 2030 pledge. These included encouraging the use of healthy and safe materials, designing out waste and pollution, and keeping goods and materials in use.
According to Mike Werner, lead for the circular economy at Google, "fundamentally, we're focused on divorcing economic growth from the consumption and disposal of finite resources." Because recycled and reused materials have reduced carbon footprints, they provide an essential pathway for mitigating climate change and transitioning to a low-carbon economy, which constitutes part of the transition to a circular economy.