Karin Huber-Heim: The Importance of Closing the Loop


article by: Karin Huber-Heim

Societal and environmental changes challenge business. Doing the same over and over again in a quickly changing economic environment and thereby expecting a positive outcome, cannot work. Albert Einstein defined this behaviour as ‘madness’.

Still most business models are structured this way – and many of them are already at the point of disruption. Digitalisation will not mean the solution to everything – it is merely going to be a tool for the best, and just a ‘band-aid’ for the not so good ones – as it will only cover the symptoms, not going the root of the problem. Resources like water, energy, land, and materials are becoming scarce. This causes not only economic pressure but also tension between regions and countries, thereby jeopardizing social peace and justice.

Change is inevitable and keeping material in the loop as long as possible makes the most sense. When Ellen MacArthur broke the world record for the fastest solo circumnavigation of the globe in 2005 she gained worldwide acknowledgment. Having spent 71 days and 14 minutes racing around the globe she has had a plenty of time considering the importance of careful, sustainable resource management and energy use. Our planet is comparable to a boat out in the ocean –we have to manage finite resources, because nothing will be renewed while we are out there.  This is why in 2010 she launched the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, a charity that dedicates its work to the acceleration of the transition to a circular economy.

Why circular? Because currently, and for the past decades, our economy is a linear one: we source – from mostly non-renewable resources – we produce and market products that people use and then dispose.

Circular Change