Economy, ecology, citizenship...
The circular economy is first and foremost an ecological approach to preserving the environment. But it also offers a real benefit to the national economy. According to a study by Club of Rome, relayed by the French Institute of Circular Economy, it has the potential to generate 500,000 jobs in France and add 2.5% in GDP. Though it varies by country, this impact is substantial.
In this vein, the Institute of Circular Economy has assessed the impact of developing the circular economy – or improving natural resource management in different countries – in terms of job creation. It would spawn 1.2 million jobs by 2020 in South Korea, nearly 233,000 in South Africa, and 3.3 million by 2026 in Australia.
In Europe, different studies have pointed to numbers ranging from 1.4 to 2.8 million jobs created by reducing natural resource consumption by 17%, with nearly 400,000 coming from a full implementation of the waste framework directive.
These figures support the claims of Accenture, which sees the circular economy as “the biggest revolution of the next 250 years in terms of organizing modes of production and consumption."
In rethinking relationships between economic players, the circular economy stimulates:
- sharing of knowledge and expertise,
- the development of local distribution networks,
- responsible consumption and shared infrastructure.
In addition, the jobs it generates are often tied to the social and solidarity economy. In short, the circular economy preserves the environment, creates jobs and business, and also represents a socially responsible initiative!
According to France Stratégie, today’s total workforce involved in the circular economy measures at least 800,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs. Most of these are local jobs, created in proximity to demand, in order to provide eco-activities, repairs, leasing and used goods.
Banking and the circular economy
It is easy to imagine how a business that manufactures a product might shift to the circular economy: by using recycled wastes as raw materials, favoring renewable energies, limiting consumption of energy and resources, recycling its own waste, etc.
But how can banks take action? First of all, by financing the transition: investments in businesses seeking to adapt their processes and creating or incubating startups in the circular and/or social economy.
BNP Paribas has demonstrated how a bank’s actions can go above and beyond this role:
- Observing trends and circulating new ideas and concepts – including those pertaining to the circular economy – among its customers. BNP Paribas does this through L'Atelier BNP Paribas, and through occasional efforts such as the Wave project (unavailable link), which celebrates collective ingenuity.
- Taking collective action together with other banking establishments, for additional impact. For example, banks promoted pro-climate action during COP21: a cause connected to the circular economy, via the energy transition.
- Financing initiatives in the sharing economy and the circular economy, while also getting involved in the inclusive economy – a domain in which BNP Paribas has emerged as a recognized player – through numerous actions in favor of microcredit and social entrepreneurship.
- Supporting innovation, in order to rethink the foundations of the linear economy and find new production methods and manufacturing technologies – which BNP Paribas has done through programs that favor startups and innovation.
- Taking action as a business, on a daily basis: by reducing consumption of energy, water and consumables (paper, etc. )
BNP Paribas Real Estate
A subsidiary of the BNP Paribas group, BNP Paribas Real Estate, has outlined its actions in support of the circular economy:
- Choosing partners like Encore Heureux, a group of architects that has decided to “think more to consume less,” and which helped BNP Paribas Real Estate undertake certain projects led in an economically and ecologically fashion,
- Reducing the use of consumables (especially paper, with a targeted 30% reduction between 2012 and 2020)• Spearheading waste sorting in offices,
- Saving water and energy,
- Investing in a composter to transform waste from the company restaurant into compost that helps maintain landscaping.