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2018 Circulars Honors 7 Innovators Accelerating a Waste-Free Future

Image Credit: Daniel Hansen

At the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting in Davos, WEF, the Forum of Young Global Leaders and Accenture revealed the winners of the 2018 Circulars. The awards recognize individuals and organizations that have made notable contributions to the circular economy.

The fourth annual awards ceremony showcased advances from the private and public sectors that drive innovation and growth while reducing dependence on scarce natural resources.

“Across the globe, we continue to face the need to create growth, jobs and a thriving global economy within the boundaries of sustainable development. This is why The Circulars are more timely than ever with an aim of identifying the organizations and individuals leading this movement through innovation, growth and competitiveness,” said Peter Lacy, Senior Managing Director at Accenture.

This year, IKEA took home the Accenture Strategy Award for Circular Economy Multinational for integrating circularity into all aspects of its operations, from developing products to mapping materials, implementing circular design principles and adapting its business model to meet consumer demands. The company has funneled billions into sustainable materials sourcing, instituted a furniture take-back scheme and released a line of products made from packaging and manufacturing waste.

AMP Robotics was recognized for its ingenuity in advancing recycling. The company received the Ecolab Award for Circular Economy Digital Disruptor for successfully developing a new kind of sorting technology for recycling facilities: Cortex robot. The Cortex can automate the separation of waste with practically no retrofit or change to existing operations. Cortex robots are powered by Neuron, the artificial intelligence that perceives material in dirty, commingled conditions found in most facilities today.

The Dell Circular Economy People’s Choice Award also honored a startup changing the face of recycling: Banyan Nation. The startup is India’s first vertically integrated recycling company, using data intelligence to integrate a largely informal supply chain to maximize plastics recovery and reuse. To date, Banyan has recycled more than seven million pounds of plastics and integrated more than 2000 informal sector waste workers in their value chain.

In a time when finance is increasingly siding with sustainability, ABN AMRO Bank NV has established itself as an industry leader, snagging the CNBC Award for Circular Economy Investor. The firm was acknowledged for using its circular experts and relationship managers to work together in agile teams to understand and enable financing of new business models emerging from the principles of the circular economy.

Frans van Houten, CEO of Philips, won the Fortune Award for Circular Economy Leadership for leading the transformation of Philips into a circular company by shifting its business model, moving from selling equipment alone to providing solutions to customers. Other winners included Sitra, creator of the ground-breaking Circular Economy Road Map for Finland 2016-2025, which won in the Public Sector category; and Apto Solutions, an information technology company helping businesses close the loop on electronic waste and recipient of the Young Leaders Award for Circular Economy SME.

The 2018 Circulars attracted 296 entries from 45 countries. The judging panel was drawn from the Young Global Leader community of the World Economic Forum and leading experts across business and civil society.

“As advancements in the circular economy continue to disrupt old-school ideologies, The Circulars lead the way in identifying those transformational businesses and individuals who through digital connectivity, industrial design and progressive concepts have contributed in a significant and positive way to the environment and to economic growth,” said Antoine Gawal, Head of Circular Economy Initiative at WEF. “The Circulars remain an important initiative of the World Economic Forum and the Forum of Young Global Leaders to celebrate such trailblazing innovation and impact.”


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