Dr. Markus Algner on How to Keep Earth Beautiful for Our Grandchildren

Why should the Circular Economy be a topic on the agenda of every company? We asked Dr. Markus Algner, Head of Finance and Sustainability and Member of the Executive Board at DATEV eG, a proud partner of CIRCULAZE, 5 questions to find out

by Natascha Zeljko | Jul 26, 2022

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

Our constitution states that ownership has a 360-degree obligation. We have a responsibility not only to our shareholders – in our case, the members of the cooperative – but also to society as a whole. To the cooperative members and employees, to the citizens in the communities where our companies are located, and to all of society. And as a father, I am also consciously saying this to future generations. But beyond these ethically political issues that are important to me, I also say it in my role as Head of Finance, sustainable resource-conserving business always pays off immediately in economic terms. If I use fewer resources for my growth, I also immediately save financially. And in the current situation, it is also clear that if I move in regional or even internal company cycles, I escape the international supply chain problems. In this way, I can secure my production because I have better control over the cycle than a supply chain in third party countries, which I can only control to a certain point.

2. What are the biggest challenges?

Moving from insight to action. It’s like any change project, where results can only be seen in the future, but for which I have to motivate people today to invest their resources and enter into this change process; All while still working with the old processes. In other words, to tackle the important versus the ostensibly urgent.

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

With one question: What do we have to do to keep our earth as beautiful as it is for your grandchildren? 

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

Dennis Meadows’s Limits to Growth. Five years before I was born, the topics that concern me today were worked through and many scenarios that make our future seem challenging were outlined in his book. Today they are proven better scientifically, and we know more. But if we had started “doing” back then, we would be in a better position today.

5. What are the key requirements for the Circular Economy to succeed and eventually become standard?

In some areas, we need regulations from the legislator. For example, the EU’s ban on certain single-use plastic products or the Supply Chain Act. But that alone is not enough to trigger a fundamental sustainability transformation towards a circular economy, as such regulations do not contain any impetus for innovation or motivation. We need positive narratives that awaken people’s appetites for a circular economy. To achieve this, we need to focus more on how we can generate growth without consuming additional resources.