Circular Economy Principles in Ocean Innovation
Updated: Jul 31
Joining the Ocean Community Challenge, you are asked to consider circular economy principles when developing your solutions. Maybe you are on top of this, but as a refresher or as a simple introduction, here are a few words putting circular into the context of innovating in the ocean economy.
We have never been more aware of the need to protect our planet’s resources, especially over-exploited resources, so how can we make them last? “Sustainable” is a widely used expression, and increasing conversations in the business world revolves around circular economy and circular models as a way for businesses to act more sustainably.
So, what is a circular model or circular principles? How can a business form and grow along these lines and principles and contribute to our planet’s well-being?
Referencing “circular economy” or “circular principles” without clarification adds confusion, and we need to define a common language to simplify and create a shared understanding.
The organization “Circular Economy” has formed seven key elements of a circular economy based on a variety of definitions to make better sense of it:
Preserve what is already made
Rethink the business model
Incorporate a digital technology
Use waste as a resource
An even more simple way of applying circularity in practice is translating the circular model and opportunities into the “7 R’s”:
Rethink solutions at every level. Be creative and mindful of using resources and producing waste. Can we take the popular ride-share services like Lyft to the ocean? Can we use algae to produce plastics or nutritious food-substitutes?
Some actions to reduce the carbon footprint include using renewable energy and reducing the amount of energy consumed in the business. Can boats and ferries run on renewable energy? Another way to reduce waste can be by re-using used resources and marine litter in production.
Traditional fishing boats all over the world are stranded due to the industrialization of the industry. Can we give these valuable, physical resources a new life? Maybe the boats can be used to collect marine litter at sea?
The ocean can be harsh, leading to much equipment used at sea being destroyed. In addition, much equipment is thrown away after being used just a few times. Can we find good ways to repair used equipment, such as sensors, fishing gear, or energy turbines?
There is an extensive amount of physical resources no longer in use in coastal communities. Take for example Peniche Ocean Watch, they are renovating an old fishing warehouse and turning it into a co-working space to promote innovation and entrepreneurship in the coastal village Peniche.
According to the UN, one-third of the world's fisheries are currently pushed beyond their biological limits. Over-fishing is an increasing problem. Can we find ways to reduce this exaggerated fishing or find sustainable alternatives to cover our protein-need? Or perhaps we can develop better sensors to reduce the by-catch when fishing?
Marine litter and other waste are threatening our oceans and the ecosystem. It should be easy to recycle used resources for those operating in and around the ocean. What about incorporating block-chain technology to add transparency to the recycling process?
We encourage you to pick a few R’s and design your very own Ci-“R”-cular Model. Consider how your ideas for utilizing ocean resources could include sustainable elements and circular thinking as you enter into our challenge.
Welcome on board!