Christian Wondratsch on the Benefits of a Circular Society

Christian Wondratsch, Senior Advisor Private Wealth Management at ODDO BHF, is a huge proponent of moving away from a throwaway society to a circular one. He believes with the right knowledge and motivation consumers can help to push this change

by Natascha Zeljko | Apr 4, 2023

1. Why does this topic have to be on the agenda of every company? Or to put it another way: Why is it worthwhile?

We need to move away from a throwaway society to an efficient, repeatable use of resources. In this way, the life cycle of a product can be redefined from linear to circular in order to achieve more output with less input and thus increase sustainability. This also benefits manufacturers via efficiency gains and improved profit margins. Circular Economy concepts rely on innovation, which is always a driver of growth: Think of new product and process development and job creation. Customer loyalty increases: customers evolve from passive (in a linear economy) to active consumers. Finally, recycled products can be more valuable than new products, as consumers are willing to pay more for better environmental awareness. Example: the price development of new and recycled PET in comparison.

“Recycled products can be more valuable than new products, as consumers are willing to pay more for better environmental awareness.”

2. What are the biggest challenges?

Technology, processes, knowledge, and motivation are the core drivers! Technology and processes: Redesigning historic everyday products can be costly: components can lose value and properties after many cycles, and supply chain actors are not always flexible to change. Knowledge and motivation: standards and certification are lacking. Consumers need better education to increase demand for appropriate products – incentive schemes such as the bottle deposit system in Germany would do the cause good. Ultimately, there is also a need for more professional and qualified employees in the industry.

3. How would you convince people who are still critical of the topic?

The Circular Economy is nothing more than the extension of a product’s life cycle, making it more sustainable and profitable for all stakeholders.

4. A thought leader, book, or podcast you would recommend?

Outstanding personalities in this field are Volker Rehrmann, Head of TOMRA Recycling/Mining & Circular Economy, one of the most circular companies in the world. A fitting documentary on Youtube is: World Champions in Waste Separation – The Sorting Professionals from TOMRA.

In addition, Magnus Welander, CEO of THULE: He advises his customers not to buy a new THULE product while their old one is still working perfectly. And as a book tip: Cradle to Cradle by Michael Braungart and William McDonough.

5. What are the key requirements for the circular economy to be successful and eventually become the norm?

Very important for the success of the Circular Economy is worldwide acceptance, so that all parties in the value chain cooperate on a global level. A prerequisite for this is that all parties involved have good knowledge of the topic. Here, it would be helpful if companies provided better and more targeted information about waste, packaging, and the use of fossil resources. From a technical perspective, there is need for more R&D and upfront investment, simplification of supply chains and logistics, and standardization and certification of processes could also provide a boost. Finally, from an investor perspective, it would be desirable to see more Circular Economy Pure Player stocks on the market.