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Circul’R: a look back at the world tour of the circular economy


A 17 months world tour, discovering 150 circular economy initiatives: that was the goal that Jules Coignard and Raphaël Masvigner, founders of Circul’R set themselves. How did they get on? They took up the challenge and identified a host of innovative projects, as explained to open_resource in their interview.

What was the original objective of your Circul’R project?

The idea came from our perception that a multitude of solutions already exist all over the world and in every sector for the major environmental issues we are facing, such as the scarcity of natural resources and increasing volumes of waste. But the lack of information and of dialogue between the various players means that these economically sustainable models remain unknown and underdeveloped. So we decided to head out into the field to meet these innovative entrepreneurs and share their good practices. We had three main goals: to visit as many countries in the North as in the South, to discover projects in all sectors (industry, agrifoods, etc.) and to look for genuine innovation. The result? In the course of our 17-month world tour, we visited 22 countries and discovered 150 initiatives!

Did you detect different approaches to the circular economy from one country to another?

In the Northern countries, the level of innovation is higher and a genuine appetite for the circular economy can be found in some countries, which made of circular economy a central theme. For example, in the Netherlands, we were impressed by the level of commitment amongst both public and private players to making the change from a linear model to a circular one.
In the South, the concept of the circular economy is less well known, but the populations have adopted it, because it simply makes sense. Conserving resources in countries where they are very limited is essential. This approach spawns simple and effective solutions, from which we can all draw inspiration.

Which projects impressed you most?

That’s a difficult question, because all the projects deserve to be mentioned. The top two projects in the Southern countries were probably the Goonj initiative in India, and Jokko Santé in Africa. Goonj is a leader in socially responsible entrepreneurship that repairs old clothes and uses them to remunerate the local population in return for projects in the general interest, such as building a new road or a bridge. Jokko Santé is a communal and social virtual pharmacy that distributes unused medications to the poor.
In the North, the Newlight Technologies project in the United States and the city of Kamikatsu in Japan both impressed us. Newlight Technologies has developed a technology capable of capturing methane and transforming it into bioplastics, turning a greenhouse gas into a new resource. Unbelievable! Kamikatsu is the first city capable of recycling 80% of its waste, with a target of 100% by 2020.

Does the adventure stop here, or do you have more projects?

In December, our association became a start-up. We will continue to take part in workshops and conferences in companies in order to present the solutions that they could potentially implement, to propose learning expeditions for their employees and, most importantly of all, to create the first international network that connects players in the circular economy. And we already have some great success stories to tell. For example, we put our partner Accor in contact with Goonj so that it could recover old sheets, which are usually thrown away, to make sanitary napkins for women living in remote regions. We have already become a link between investment funds and project owners looking for funding, and our next objective is to create the first investment fund dedicated to the circular economy in the coming months.

Watch this space…

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