What are the general trends regarding sustainable entrepreneurship and start-ups? What areas or issues do you anticipate will become the future focus for green businesses?
We asked Jos Reinhoudt, Senior Knowledge Manager at MVO Nederland and Councillor for the Green Party in Nijmegen, to share his insights with us on these questions:
Replacing fossil fuels for greener energies
The most important general prediction that arose in the 2015 MVO Trend Report (for those of you who read Dutch) is the fact that we are starting to shift away from fossil energy. Thus, start-ups and entrepreneurs should focus on developing products and services using as minimal fossil fuels as possible. Replacing fossil fuels with greener energies is probably something you’ve heard before. But where are we headed?
According to Reinhardt, one of the most important developing trends is that we are headed towards a circular economy. A circular economy is an economy in which products are produced, sold to consumers, and then either returned to the producer or passed on to another producer, where they will be recycled into something else. Essentially, the “take-make-waste system that we have now will be replaced by a system where all the materials will remain in the economy with the same quality-levels forever, if possible. This is good for sustainability, because it requires less virgin materials. And it’s good for producers or businesses because their original materials will be returned to them, for reuse.”
Reinhardt isn’t the only one who believes in the value of a circular economy. In fact, the European Commission has adopted legislation that helps establish an EU framework for promoting a circular economy. The Guardian summarises the issue quite nicely with its article: 10 things you need to know about the circular economy.
Another interesting development is the rise in the inclusiveness of society. We live in a big world, with over 7 billion people in it. But human nature has always driven us to be a part of specific groups and that has not changed, despite the changes in technology. Living in an inclusive society could refer to a group or neighbours, a group of colleagues or a group with shared hobbies and interests. Or perhaps broader definitions as well.
International organisations have already begun to take note of these trends and are working to promote them. For example, in 2013, UNESCO built their World Philosophy Day around the theme: “Inclusive Societies, Sustainable Planet” and the OECD has included “Inclusive Growth” as one of the Forum’s five themes for 2015.
Circular economies and inclusive societies certainly seem to have great promise for the future of sustainability and CSR. Entrepreneurs and start-ups who are able to tap into these trends and build upon them, will definitely be ahead of the curve.