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2019 Circulars Honor 7 Disruptors Unlocking Value from $4.5T Circular Economy

5th annual awards received highest-ever number of applicants competing for circular economy recognition.

On Monday, at the opening of the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, The Forum of Young Global Leaders — in collaboration with Accenture — awarded the winners of this year’s The Circulars. With a $4.5 trillion growth opportunity at stake, organizations globally are harnessing innovation and disruptive technologies to reduce waste, emissions and the use of harmful materials, and maximize the value of products and services to improve competitiveness.

“Consumers, employees, stakeholders and policymakers alike expect companies to lead with purpose around sustainability and are holding them accountable. Inaction or idleness can severely harm competitiveness, with a drop in stakeholder trust costing businesses globally $180 billion in potential revenues,” said Peter Lacy, Senior Managing Director at Accenture Strategy. “Moving to a circular economy delivers the disruptive change needed to secure a sustainable future, while enabling businesses to unlock innovation and growth. We are proud to recognize the individuals and organizations that are leading the circular movement, creating a thriving global economy.”

The Circulars recognize individuals and organizations around the world in the private and public sectors and civil society, that are making innovative strides in the circular economy and paving the path to a more sustainable future. Nearly 450 applications from 45 countries were received in the fifth year of the annual awards program — a 50 percent increase compared to last year, and the strongest and most diverse pool of entrants yet.

This year's seven Circulars were awarded to:

  • The Fortune Award for Circular Economy Leadership: Professor Flemming Besenbacher, Chairman of the Danish government’s Advisory Board for Circular Economy, for his inspirational leadership in driving circular policy in Denmark and beyond. Through his role as Chairman of Carlsberg Group and the Carlsberg Foundation, Professor Besenbacher has succeeded in applying circular thinking to Carlsberg’s operations, delivering significant, quantifiable circular results.

  • The Accenture Strategy Award for Circular Economy Multinational: Schneider Electric, for the proven transformative change the company is driving in the energy industry. It is leading the digital transformation of energy management and automation, and helping consumers use less resources through product innovation and strong engagement around circularity.

  • The Young Global Leaders Award for Circular Economy SME (Small to Medium-sized Enterprise): Lehigh Technologies, for its innovative recovery of value from a waste stream and its development of disruptive technology that turns end-of-life tires into competitive feedstock for new products. To date, the company has manufactured over 500 million new tires using its circular model.

  • The Dell Circular Economy People’s Choice Award: TriCiclos — “a cultural change B Corp masqueraded as a recycling company” — for creating a scalable waste management, recycling and recovery model for businesses and citizens. The system was created in Chile 10 years ago and now also operates in Brazil, Colombia and Peru. As well as collaborating with civil society partners to drive new, effective waste-management regulations, TriCiclos has also developed innovative technologies to assist companies to diagnose and improve their waste portfolios. Over 33,000 tonnes of waste material has been moved from landfill through the model, avoiding 140,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions.

  • The World Economic Forum Award for Circular Economy Public Sector: European Commission, for delivering impactful change in Europe and beyond. The European Commission’s influential Circular Economy Action Plan has resulted in the majority of EU Member States establishing national circular economy strategies. A shift in resource efficiency and circular practice prioritization means that 24 percent of European SMEs now offer circular products or services.

  • The Gulf International Bank Award for Circular Economy Investor: Impax Asset Management, for leading the way in investment to support a transition to a more circular economy. Impax’s pioneering environmental markets classification system was developed in 1999 and adopted by the FTSE in 2007. Today, Impax invests around $8 billion in over 100 listed companies, advancing the circular economy.

  • The Ecolab Award for Circular Economy Tech Disruptor: Winnow, for driving measurable change in the food service industry due to the commercial and environmental benefit of its smart meter technology, which connects commercial kitchens to cloud software, analyzing what is put in the bin. This gives chefs necessary information to inform production processes, cut food waste, reduce costs and improve environmental footprint.

The judging panel for the 2019 Circulars awards was drawn from the Young Global Leaders community of the World Economic Forum and leading experts across business and civil society. In addition to Accenture Strategy, The Circulars are sponsored by Dell, Ecolab and Gulf International Bank. CNBC and Fortune are media partners.

“Every year applicants push the boundaries, demonstrating huge drive and creativity to create transformational change through digital connectivity, industrial design and progressive concepts that positively impact the environment and create economic growth,” said, Dominic Waughray, Managing Director and Head of the Centre for Global Public Goods at WEF. “Scaling the circular economy transformation is critical, and the individuals and businesses we celebrate are leading the charge.”


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