As I start to consider the 12 months of content material and protection forward, I assumed I’d begin issues off by sharing some huge questions I’ll be asking in 2021 — plus some predictions on how they is perhaps answered.  

1. Will firms align round financial system initiatives with local weather objectives, or proceed to deal with these as discrete initiatives? 

Prediction: Thus far, solely a handful of firms (and nations) have meaningfully harmonized round methods and local weather commitments, presumably given the novelty of those applications and the complexity of calculating impacts of recent fashions on carbon emissions. I foresee a rise within the analysis, monitoring and reporting on environmental impacts of round enterprise fashions (resale, restore, rental, product-as-a-service), and an elevated give attention to leveraging round methods to attain local weather objectives.  

2. What position will communities and justice play within the dialog concerning the round financial system?

Prediction: Lots. Constructing on the muse of environmental justice work in communities internationally, fairness and impression will probably be on the middle of how firms and cities alike take into account the alternatives of a round financial system. For cities, round financial system initiatives will probably be used to drive financial equality and create jobs; and for firms, the identical scrutiny used to evaluate upstream provide chains will probably be utilized to downstream worth chains. 

three. What position will bioplastics and different bio-based supplies play within the shift away from nonrenewable supplies for packaging and merchandise? 

Prediction: Biomaterials will probably be a sizzling matter in 2021 as firms search alternate options to virgin plastics and race in the direction of 2025 objectives. A polarizing topic, biomaterials will probably be assessed via a extra holistic lens and can scrutinize upstream implications together with meals safety, deforestation and petroleum-based fertilizers — plus end-of-life administration woes. A better emphasis will probably be positioned on the distinctions between biomaterials and acceptable use circumstances for every. 

four. Will firms scale reuse fashions, or give attention to smaller-scale pilots? 

Prediction: As I shared in my 2020 reflections, reuse continues to realize momentum and a focus — and for good purpose. I foresee a continued rise in reusable packaging fashions, though extra so in numbers of gamers than in scale of their applications. Extra localized, smaller-scale startups will soar on the scene, though really complete fashions at scale will stay elusive. 

5. Will the incoming Biden administration have any impression on progress in the direction of extra round methods? 

Prediction: Given final week’s information, I’m extra optimistic than ever about the potential of federal motion on plastic air pollution and an elevated funding in recycling infrastructure — however I’m not holding my breath on sweeping laws on plastics manufacturing in 2021. Nonetheless, impartial of federal policymaking, compliance will play a rising position in company motion on supplies as NGOs maintain firms accountable for state-level shortcomings. 

What questions are you asking and solutions are you searching for in 2021? I invite you to drop me a word at [email protected] with questions or proposed solutions for the 12 months forward. 

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