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iLEGO 2020

16 October 2020

Group of people in Zoom meeting

Practitioners from industry and academia have shared knowledge and expertise on the value of circular business models at Cardiff Business School’s Innovation in Lean Enterprise and Green Operations (iLEGO) workshop on 9 September 2020.

With 260 registrations, this year’s workshop, the fourth of its kind, was the most popular to date, and was, for the first time, hosted virtually on Zoom.

Participants from academia, industry and government were welcomed by Professor Calvin Jones, Deputy Dean at Cardiff Business School, who emphasised the event’s importance to the School not only in terms of research but because of its links to a unique Public Value mission.

Black Swan event

PowerPoint slide from conference presentation

With formal proceedings underway, Joseph Sarkis, Professor of Operations and Environmental Management at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Massachusetts, delivered the iLEGO keynote address.

Reflecting on the implications of the ongoing global pandemic, Professor Sarkis delivered a keynote presentation on whether circular economy principles can help address and recover from a socially and economically disruptive Black Swan event?

Professor Sarkis outlined that the globalisation of the COVID-19 crisis, as it moved from different areas, uncovered supply chain fragilities, and how its resilience could be improved through localisation, agility, digitisation, and technology.

However, he was quick to add how important it is to consider the potential unintended consequences caused as a result and gave examples of the potential impact of moving from globalisation to localisation.

He concluded by reminding us all to be more compassionate: “Let us not feign ignorance if this happens again, instead we need to learn from what we’ve lived through.”

Next Dr Adam Read, Director of External Affairs at SUEZ Recycling and Recovery, moved discussions onto the role of a waste management company in the circular economy.

He insisted upon the need to re-think our relationship with buying ‘stuff’, as recycling alone is not the answer. “The future isn’t waste management, it’s circular economy,” asserted Dr Read.

Continuing this focus on practice, Ann Beavis, Head of Sustainable Development at Crown Workspace, brought the preliminary session to the virtual coffee break by outlining how circular economy principles can be implemented in the workplace.

She shared examples from her workplace, and how their business model is helping to ultimately change the perception of waste.

The afternoon session saw Mark Thompson, Managing Director of Techlan Ltd, share lessons learned at the helm of a circular economy recycling business.

Eoin Bailey, Innovation Manager at Celsa Steel UK, brought the formal presentations to a close with his discussion of the processes behind successful implementation of circular economy supply chains from consumption to regeneration.

He talked about strategic design solution for restorative economic development based on full lifecycle understanding.

Debate and discussion

Maneesh Kumar, Professor in Service Operations at Cardiff University and Chair of iLEGO, said: “Much of iLEGO’s success can be attributed to the applied research work conducted by our Logistics and Operations Management Section here in Cardiff Business School…”

“Year after year the workshop continues to demonstrate the importance of bringing academic, practitioner and policymaker communities together on one platform to engage in debate and discussion on topics like the circular economy which align with the Public Value purpose of our School.”

Professor Maneesh Kumar Professor in Service Operations

Another first saw the workshop form part of eLRN 2020, a three-day virtual conference hosted by Cardiff University and the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport UK.

Dr Vasco Sanchez Rodrigues, Reader in Logistics and Operations Management at Cardiff University and Co-chair of iLEGO, said: “The decision to integrate iLEGO with eLRN for the first time was an important one. Doing so brought further synergies to an already lively discussion on circular supply chain and UN Sustainable Development Goals...”

“This was our fourth year delivering iLEGO and, in my opinion, without doubt the best. It was current in its relevance to the COVID-19 pandemic and of course, as always, benefitted from the quality of speakers and presentations.”

Professor Vasco Sanchez Rodrigues Professor in Sustainable Supply Chain Management

The event concluded with a panel discussion comprised of all the event’s speakers. Together with their presentations, this saw panellists exchanging their views on:

  • How can circular economy models enable supply chains to be greener and more resilient during a post Covid-19 economic recovery period?
  • How do you see the role of ‘innovation through partnerships’ for the implementation of circular business models?’

Focusing on the unfolding global pandemic, speakers also made closing remarks on:

  • How companies with leading circular business models have managed to respond to the COVID-19 crisis?
  • How imperative the effective implementation of circular business models is when businesses return to the ‘new-normal’ post-COVID-19?

Dr Adam Read, External Affairs Director, SUEZ Recycling and Recovery, said: “I thoroughly enjoyed the diverse mix of participants and panellists at this event, which made for stimulating discussion and debate…”

“I would advise anyone interested in what the circular economy means or what it could do for you to join future events and enjoy the peer to peer learning and sharing experience.”

Dr Adam Read External Affairs Director at SUEZ Recycling and Recovery

iLEGO 2020 was organised by Professor Maneesh Kumar, Dr Vasco Sanchez Rodrigues, Nadine Leder and the Executive Education Team at Cardiff Business School.

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