Interview with Giorgos Demetriou | École des Ponts Business School

Four Questions to Dr. Giorgos Demetriou

Chaired professor and Director of the Circular Economy Research Center (CERC)

Why should we care about Circular Economy?

The answer to this is very easy. Simply put, it’s because we cannot afford not to care about Circular Economy if we want to secure a sustainable and competitive future at all levels. Irrespective of whether your starting point is profit, scarcity of natural resources, corporate social responsibility, environmental sensitivity, energy efficiency, humanity, technological evolution and many other driving forces, Circular Economy will come in the center of it all. New sustainable business models that will respect not only their commercial purpose but will be congruent with the long-standing environment concerns as well as the social values depicted by the society will be the outcome of the transformational process.

What is your aim is pursuing research on Circular Economy?

Circular Economy will be the game changer for the years to come and will transform the input and output of the traditional production and consumption cycle catalytically. It has come to the forefront recently, and it is here to stay. Circular Economy will require a transition period in which a transformation process will take place within the economy and the society until its full potential has been explored.

The transformation of the society and the economy is not something new. Therefore the key element is to be able to be aware of what is coming ahead and most importantly to be prepared for it. The past 50 years the economy and the society in parallel has been following a transformation journey from the linear economy, to the recycling economy and now the new destination is the Circular Economy.

The aim is to enable current, students, as well as the alumni to sharpen their knowledge on the upcoming transformation, and be enabled to understand it, embrace it and prepare for it in their domains of professional interest.

What would you like the readers to understand and take away from your research?

I hope the audience understands the concept, framework and importance of Circular Economy while at the same time I want to enhance their ability to map this new unchartered landscape and elevate their level of preparedness.

They should be able to understand the future implications and opportunities from the transformation to a Circular Economy onto the real economy and in particular to the current business models, as well as the society. They should be enabled to grasp the importance and the influence that the new policies introduced at European level will bring forward and how they will foster the establishment of the Circular Economy as the new norm of thinking in social and commercial terms.

What are you trying to do with governmental agencies and Circular Economy?

For Circular Economy to be enabled throughout the economy and the society a collective public-private effort is required. In December 2015 the European Union, launched an action plan for the Circular Economy which included five priority sectors:  1) critical raw materials, 2) plastics, 3) construction and demolition, 4) biomass and bio-based products 5) food waste. In this respect, a number of measures have been identified as necessary for opening the path or lifting barriers that could pre-empt the proliferation and penetration of Circular Economy into the economy and the society. Such actions on the part of the EU include legislative measures, communications and reports, guidance and best practices,  indicators and financing instruments.

During my classes, we will make reference to the overall policy landscape and the work of the European Bodies on Circular Economy, and we will analyse the funding opportunities that have emerged in this new domain.