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The Next Economy
The Circular Economy Requires Size and Scale — How Will We Get There?

In the build-up to the official launch of the world's largest aluminum recycling centre this week, John Gardner, Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer at Novelis — which built the plant — discusses the barriers and the opportunities for taking the circular economy to scale.

The world’s largest aluminum recycling center can recycle 400,000 tons of aluminum scrap annually, returning record-breaking amounts of used material back into the circular economy. But while the scale of the Nachterstedt Recycling Center is impressive and exciting, it comes with challenges that we as a company, as an industry and as a society must overcome in order to sustain it, and other advances like it.

In early September, leading circular economy experts from Forum for the Future and around the world came together in Nachterstedt, Germany, to discuss these and other challenges — not just for our recycling center, but also similar circular economy incubators — and how we can overcome them on a macro scale.

During this session we explored three of the most significant barriers to meeting the size and scale required to make a true circular economy. Here’s what we realized:

These challenges are not unique to aluminum recycling. But by identifying the challenges we face as a global society, we can better collaborate on solutions to help us achieve our mutual goal — a more circular economy. At Novelis, we’ve made the investment. Now we’re up and running, and willing to learn along the way.

This post first appeared on Novelis’ blog on September 25, 2014.

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