François Laigret on Acting with Future Generations in Mind

François Laigret, Knauf Corporate Sustainability Manager – Circular Economy, has years of experience when it comes to energy and contract management and operation and utilities optimization. His mandates have tackled solvents regeneration (recycling), fossil fuel substitution, and share of services between clients of industrial platforms, all pertaining to circular economy practice. He shares why raising awareness and engaging are paramount to forwarding a circular mindset

by Rachel Johnson | Jul 20, 2023

“All potential stakeholders and enablers of the circular economy must be on the same page of the diagnosis, before entering circular economy thinking.”

1. Why does the topic of the circular economy have to be on the agenda of every company? Why is it worthwhile?

Every company has to recognize that the circular economy is instrumental in raising awareness across citizens, communities, and industrialists of interdependencies of eco-systems, in order to slow down and stop the depletion of natural resources, to produce out of waste and bridge usages between producers and consumers and meet the expectations of its stakeholders. It pertains to a change management that covers the three components of ESG: Environment is thus tackled in all dimensions of climate change with measurable benefits on carbon and water footprints as well as on biodiversity. Social and Governance are onboarded to favor best usage of existing capacities, develop new capabilities and partnerships, and build the consensus to gain the support of large communities. It is worthwhile also to enhance long-term profitability and resilience to climate change events and natural resource scarcity, all themes of paramount importance for a family business like Knauf that “act[s] with future generations in mind”.

2. What are the biggest challenges?

The biggest challenges are to embark stakeholders and foster broad eco-systems creation where synergies can emerge to minimize the effect of polluting activities in a change management process. The latter shall result in considering and incentivizing reuse, recycling “Cradle to Cradle”, repurposing of goods, share of services and facilities and rewarding them at the same level as “mere” financial profitability, that is the meaning of the triple bottom line (People, Profit, Planet).

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

If you do not show awareness and then make first moves towards concrete actions in the workplace and at home, your children will not forgive you: they are not only digital natives, they are also natively aware of the planet’s finitude!

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

Ellen MacArthur and her foundation are a perennial source of inspirations, shared good practices, as well as training material. Jeremy Rifkin, author of numerous books, is an American economist, whose best-selling Third Industrial Revolution, dating back to 2011, is said to have inspired low carbon economies from European Parliament to the People’s Republic of China.

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

All potential stakeholders and enablers of the circular economy must be on the same page of the diagnosis, before entering circular economy thinking. Like every learning journey, make sure that stakeholders speak the same language to set understandable goals and means within:

  • the principles of the circular economy, from design stage to usage and systems involved.
  • the circular economy model and framework (encompass new business initiatives, design, reverse logistics, and identify enablers of circularity).
  • key terms of the circular economy: circular supplies, satisfy users’ needs through new access and performance routes, extend product value/duration, and foster collaboration.


CIRCULAZE, an initiative launched by business network CURAZE, was started to connect pioneers in sustainable business management and thought leaders to form a network together with the most relevant start- and scale-ups in the field of the Circular Economy. The goal of the community is to establish a powerful ecosystem, to exchange good practices, and inspire each other on the path to even more sustainable companies. Our motto: Can’t Do It Alone.

CIRCULAZE is made possible through the friendly support of our amazing co-host dfv Mediengruppe and partners DB Cargo, ODDO BHF, Otto Krahn New Business, Knauf, Capgemini Invent, 4P Capital, Jokey, SBC Hamburg, Payback, Fressnapf, and von Beust & Partner.