Circular Economy – Running in Circles or Closing the Loop?

Falling Walls Circle Tables are lending the spotlight to world-leading scientists, science strategists and policy-makers from academia, business and politics discuss how we can apply science, research and innovation to get the world moving again.

Transitioning the economy from linear to a circular economy requires reimagining fundamental global systems. But as the panel in this Falling Walls Circle Table discussed, there is now unprecedented momentum and motivation to achieve this worldwide shift.

Establishing a circular economy presents a huge challenge, not least because the linear economy has – in many ways – proven hugely successful. Products can be produced at low cost today, and plastics appear in all aspects of our lives. However these low prices come with a cost, as resources are depleted and plastic pollution reaches even remote areas.

Building a circular economy that reuses its products while protecting the natural world requires huge technological innovation, from new materials to new ways to reuse materials. While ideas can take decades to get from the lab to everyday life, solutions are needed tomorrow. Business and political leaders can push for these changes, but shifting public attitudes can also drive the transition. As Jacob Duer pointed out, “there’s no citizen, no community, no country, no company that can solve this problem alone.”

AC Coppens

As founder of THE CATALYSTS AC boosts the development of innovative players and thought leaders in the creative industries at the intersection of innovative technologies and creative content. Having developed an extensive network of successful clients and project partners in AI, Blockchain, Neuroscience and Digital Media, to Film, VR/AR/MR, Design and Immersive Sound, AC’s cross-sector know-how is the founding of an unique way to moderate events dealing with the future of entertainment across technology, scientific research, academic discourse and broader cultural and societal shifts.

AC also regularly mentors audiovisual/immersive storytelling project teams with a focus on audience building for creative hubs such as the Tribeca Film Institute in New York, Creative Media Europe, DOK Leipzig, The HIVE at The Camp in Marseille, story:first digital storytelling lab and Web First: Webseries Lab in Munich or EAVE+ in Luxembourg.

Based in Berlin, AC is also active in New York, LA, Zurich and Marseille.

Martin Brudermüller

BASF SE

Martin Brudermüller is Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of BASF SE, and Chief Technology Officer of BASF SE. He is responsible for the divisions Legal, Taxes, Insurance & Intellectual Property, Corporate Development, Corporate Communications & Government Relations, Senior Executive Human Resources, Investor Relations, Compliance, BASF 4.0, Corporate Technology & Operational Excellence, Digitalization in Research & Development, and Innovation Management. From May 2011, he was Vice Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of BASF SE. Since May 2015 he is Chief Technology Officer of BASF SE. Brudermüller has been a Member of the Board of Executive Directors since 2006, and during this time he was also responsible for the Asia Pacific region headquartered in Hong Kong, as well as the Performance Materials division. Prior to this, since 2003, he was President of the Functional Polymers division. From 2001 to 2003 he was Senior Vice President Strategic Planning. Brudermüller started his career with BASF in 1988 in the Ammonia Laboratory.

Jacob Duer

Alliance to End Plastic Waste

Jacob Duer is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Alliance to End Plastic Waste, a global non-profit organisation that brings together industry, government, civil society, development agencies and investors to help end plastic waste in the environment. The Alliance has nearly 50 member companies and supporters across the world’s leading organisations in the plastic value chain. Jacob leads the strategic visioning and direction of the Alliance that targets to invest $1.5 billion over five years to develop, accelerate and scale technologies and solutions focussing on integrated waste management systems, engaging communities and catalysing capital towards a circular economy. Jacob has more than 20 years of experience with the United Nations, focusing on chemicals and waste management, environment and sustainable development. Currently based in Singapore, he has lived and worked with the United Nations in Austria, Senegal, Kenya and Switzerland.

Rozalina Petrova

European Commission

Rozalina Petrova is a Member of the Cabinet of the EU Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius where she works for accelerating the transition to a more circular economy, making sustainable products the norm and ensuring a sustainable recovery from the crisis. She joined the Directorate General for Environment of the European Commission in 2010 to develop the EU policy to use resources more efficiently and integrate environmental considerations in economic governance. In the period 2011 – 2015 she was also responsible for sustainable development, green jobs and mainstreaming of environmental policy in economic affairs. From 2015 to 2020 she worked on EU policies and legislation to increase the recycling of waste and its use as a valuable raw material. Before joining the European Commission, Rozalina’s duties were mainly in the field of social policy, including as Chief of Cabinet of the Bulgarian Minister of Labour and Social Policy and social attaché at the Permanent Representation of Bulgaria to the EU.