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Accelerating the Circular Economy
September 28, 2020
| Mariana Arias Sanz

Accelerating the Circular Economy is going to be a multidisciplinary webinar on October 1st which will discuss numerous aspects of the emerging circular economy. Hosted by the Companies for Zero Waste (CZW) founder and CEO, Scott Donachie, the meeting will feature 25 speakers and representatives in a variety of different organizations, including The World Economic Forum, General Motors, Seventh Generation, Dell, Dow, Sims LifeCycle Services, Requis, TC Transcontinental, Enel, Recology. Each will discuss how their company is tackling sustainability issues and what tactics they use to implement a circular economy.

According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, a circular economy is “a systemic approach to economic development designed to benefit businesses, society, and the environment. In contrast to the ‘take-make-waste’ linear model, a circular economy is regenerative by design and aims to gradually decouple growth from the consumption of finite resources”. This is essential for a sustainable and environmentally conscious future and companies in different sectors have been taking action to ensure their products and services fit into this much needed circularity.

Woodrow Clark II is internationally recognized expert, author, lecturer, and consultant on global and local solutions to climate change. His core focus is on economics for smart green healthy communities due in part to being a Fulbright Fellow at AAlborg University, Denmark in 1994 continuing as a visiting lecture. Later in 1994, Clark was Manager of Strategic Planning for Energy Technology Transfer at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) under University of California. In the 1990s, he was one of researchers for United Nations Intergovernmental Panel Climate Change (IPCC), awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.


At General Motors, sustainability is integrated into every part of the company and new ways to save energy and resources are always being explored. In 2019, they received the EPA’s Green Power Leadership award for helping to develop a diverse green power supply portfolio, including advancing towards their renewable energy goal. GM is continuing to leverage a four-pillar strategy to pursue a zero emissions future: energy efficiency, renewables, storage, and policy. They also recently earned a spot on the EPA National Top 100 List of the largest green power users from the Green Power Partnership. Geraldine Barnuevo, the Senior Manager for Environmental Strategies and Sustainability, is looking forward to joining CZW’s virtual meeting series Accelerating the Circular Economy to “Foster global collaboration through sharing of lessons learned to collectively boost capacity and capability around circular economy topics”.

Another company that has been involved in greening the car industry is Circulor, one of the sponsors for the webinar. Circulor has worked with Volvo Cars and Daimler to track and trace the provenance of cobalt and mica through their supply chains during the production of electric vehicle batteries. The Circulor system provides materials with a unique digital identity and then tracks the flow of this material, even as it changes state through processing and manufacture to enable the use and re-use raw materials are optimized. Circulor has the first auto manufacturing cobalt tracking system. According to Veera Johnson, Co-founder, organizations are becoming increasingly concerned with responsible sourcing and sustainability and optimizing their raw materials efficiency.


The Global Battery Alliance (GBA) is a multi-stakeholder platform of 70 organizations of leading businesses along the entire battery value chain with governments, international organizations, NGOs and academics to actively shape a battery value chain that powers sustainable development. They hope to achieve a circular and conscious battery value chain by producing batteries responsibly and sustainably and improving repurposing and recycling of batteries. GBA has implemented ten guiding principles for the circular recovery of battery material and ensuring transparency of greenhouse gas emissions and their progressive reduction. GBA’s activities aim to;

“Establish a circular battery value chain as a major driver to achieve the Paris Agreement, establish a low-carbon economy in the value chain, create new jobs and additional economic value, and safeguard human rights and the economic development consistent with the UN Sustainable Development Goals” – Mathy Stanislaus, Interim Director, GBA (World Economic Forum), 2020


Advanced Drainage Systems, Inc (ADS) tackles water pollution though manufacturing high-performance thermoplastic corrugated pipes to keep waterways safe from harmful pollutants associated with stormwater runoff. In the last 30 years, ADS has also taken increasing measures to protect the environment;

“In that time, we have gone from sourcing nearly 100% virgin resin to becoming the second largest plastic recycler in North America through our vertically integrated recycling operations. Last year we purchased 550 million pounds of used plastic from post-consumer and post-industrial sources.” – Daniel Figola, Director of Sustainability Department, ADS 2020

Recycling and Recovering

Companies for Zero Waste is proud to be working with stellar sponsors which are keen on promoting a sustainable future and have chosen to support CWZ’s mission and event on October 1st. One of our sponsors, Cycle Technology, began as an idea by two University of Miami freshmen to promote on-campus recycling. After winning competitions and being encouraged by faculty, the company was co-founded in November of 2019 and a partnership with the University was created.

Another sponsor for the event is Smarter Sorting, a company that is committed to a zero-waste future by maximizing the salvation of unwanted items. Smart Sorting brings big data and machine learning to retail and makes organizations more sustainable, compliant, and able to find value where none previously existed. CEO Chris Ripley described the company as;

“…a purpose-driven company committed to increasing sustainable options for unsold or damaged products. Our cutting-edge machine learning technology enables cost-effective, compliant decisions for all unsold products, and our process advances our partners’ zero-waste goals”. – Chris Ripley, CEO, Smarter Sorting, 2018

Kelly Sarber, CEO of Strategic Management Group and business development consultant for EnCap Investment’s Energy Transition fund, operates at the nexus of energy, waste, and water with a development focus today primarily on greenfield utility scale solar and energy storage projects. With hundreds of thousands of batteries and solar panels soon to be deployed on her projects, Sarber brings a waste-industry honed perspective to how the solar and battery industries can invest in infrastructure to addresses the need for a circular economy. Having built several waste companies on principals of organic growth strategies, hub and spoke tuck-ins and mergers & acquisitions, Sarber will address some of the challenges to the current economic model and identify market conditions that have assisted the EEC in developing sustainable recycling programs.


One major environmental challenge worldwide is potable water scarcity, namely in eastern USA, and the excessive and unnecessary water waste. Green H2O found a solution to the water crisis through the collection and recycling of overlooked potable water. Carey Kelley stated that;

“GreenH2O can help move companies into zero water waste through the implementation of our potable water recycling program. This source of water has consistently been ignored by every industry, from textile production to hotels, hospitals, and universities.” – Carey Kelley, CEO, GreenH2O 2020

Find Out More

Advanced Drainage Systems
Companies for Zero Waste
Cycle Technology
Ellen MacArthur Foundation
Global Battery Alliance
General Motors
Green H2O
Smart Sorting

Mariana Arias Sanz
Mariana Arias Sanz
Mariana is a graduate from the University of Florida with a bachelor’s in Sustainability and a master’s in Urban and Regional Planning. She is a planner by profession, having worked in both private and public sectors. Her international background has contributed to her multicultural outlook on sustainability matters, including solid waste management, sustainable urban redevelopment, densification of cities, smart cities, and encouraging active transportation through planning. Her passion for sustainability and the environment began at an early age, motivating her to pursue the creation of a holistic relationship between people and where they live.