Lauren: on working to enable the circular economy
Lauren Ridgely (Carbon Management 2019) talks us through her role on the Circular Edinburgh project, an initiative set up by the city’s Chamber of Commerce with the mission to help the City become more circular, help companies embed circular economy thinking and support circular economy projects come to fruition.
Keep in touch and up to date with current research, what businesses in the sector are doing, keep in touch with any guest speakers or businesses you engage with during your dissertation research as you never know where opportunities might arise.
As Project Officer on the Circular Edinburgh project, no day is the same. I work with businesses supporting them to embed more sustainable and circular economy practices and help them find innovative solutions to reduce their waste streams.
I studied Geography for my undergraduate degree and went on to take the Carbon Management MSc programme at the University of Edinburgh. I always knew I wanted to have a career in the environmental/sustainability sector but I was not sure what role that would be. The knowledge and skills I learned during my Masters degree enabled me to have a better idea of the impacts climate change is having in all areas of society; the environment, within businesses, the economy and in policy and regulation. It was through the Masters programme I learned about the Circular Economy and the important role it plays in the sustainability agenda, especially for businesses. After interviewing businesses to learn about their innovative circular economy solutions for my dissertation I knew I wanted a career that would allow me to interact with lots of people and support businesses with their sustainability practices.
I was lucky enough to start at the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce shortly after finishing my Masters programme and I have enjoyed every minute of it. The role enables me to combine my interest and knowledge of the circular economy and sustainability and allows me to interact with a wide range of organisations from all sectors and size across the city.
Over the last two years at the Edinburgh Chamber I have been lucky enough to be part of some great circular economy projects within the city, supported the development of innovative circular economy businesses, organised circular events for businesses and helped increase the awareness of the circular economy and the important role it plays. One of the best things about my role is knowing I am helping make a positive difference to businesses and helping the city’s sustainability and net-zero agenda.
What is a circular economy?
The circular economy is a model of production and consumption, which involves sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing and recycling existing materials and products as long as possible. In this way, the life cycle of products is extended.
In practice, it implies reducing waste to a minimum. When a product reaches the end of its life, its materials are kept within the economy wherever possible. These can be productively used again and again, thereby creating further value.
This is a departure from the traditional, linear economic model, which is based on a take-make-consume-throw away pattern. This model relies on large quantities of cheap, easily accessible materials and energy.
My advice to anyone starting to think about what career they would like to have when graduating is have an open mind. I never thought I would end up in a role focusing on supporting businesses day to day, I initially thought I might have a more data/analytical role within the sector when I first started my Masters. I would also say network! Keep in touch and up to date with current research, what businesses in the sector are doing, keep in touch with any guest speakers or businesses you engage with during your dissertation research as you never know where opportunities might arise. I was lucky enough to learn about my job role through talking to the Circular Edinburgh team and learning that a position was becoming available so keep an eye out and don’t be afraid to ask businesses about career opportunities!
Some links you can check out: