Why should you adopt the Circular Canvas instead of the Business Model Canvas?

Our systems today rely heavily on a “take-make-dispose” model. Companies extract materials, apply energy to them, and then create a product which will be sold to a consumer who, once the product no longer works or serves its purpose, will discard it. 

As demand for resources is growing exponentially, companies need to redesign their model so as to better manage resource limits while pursuing economic growth. This brings us down to the concept of circularity, which follows “reduce, reuse, recycle, renew” as its guiding principles. Yet today, only 9% of our world is circular. 91% of minerals, metals, fossil fuels and biomass that enter the economy are not reused. Business has the resources, innovative capacity, and scale to bring forward the adoption of a circular economy. The question is how do we accompany new businesses looking to adopt circular models, and old businesses looking to switch their business model to a more circular one? 

The Business Model Canvas is a great tool to analyze how companies create and capture value. Yet, it fails to account for the fact that this value-creation process is based on a company’s access to an entire ecological system. So how do we develop a tool which enables us to get a good understanding?

Luckily, the Paris-based consulting company Circulab has already answered this question for us! With the Circular Canvas they designed, you can :

  • map your business models and its impacts
  • share information with stakeholders
  • create amazing circular products/services. 

This easy to complete canvas enables you to map in a straightforward and holistic way what your business is doing. As such, the Circular Canvas can help entrepreneurs structure their discussions with potential impact investors, but also accompany existing businesses when engaging into partnerships with other organisations or explaining its business to potential clients.

The Circular Canvas :

  • Can represent a common language
  • Allows for a relatively straightforward initial impact assessment
  • Clarifies the links between sustainability, business opportunities and risk
  • Incentivizes the collaboration with other stakeholders, such as regulators, competitors and the supply chain
  • Links the overall strategic sustainability goals to the goals of individual business units

The business world is already using this great tool!

Example of Bathô - a French social enterprise promoting values of local territories through circular economy

The French social company Bathô gathers recreational boats at the end of their life to refurbish them into atypical accommodation solutions, so as to avoid their destruction and meet the growth of slow tourism. In opposition to mass tourism, this new form of tourist aims to promote local ecosystems, economy and traditions through travel experiences. 

Didier Toquier, founder of Bathô, explains that the Circular Canvas tool really helps him present his ideas to different stakeholders in a succinct and simple manner

  • Simple – While he has had a long history of successfully starting circular businesses, Didier acknowledges not everyone is at the same level of understanding when it comes to grasping the concept of circularity. The Circular Canvas is key towards helping stakeholder dialog – especially with actors with a lower sustainability and circularity awareness. 
  • Succinct – Local territories wishing to promote tourism in their region had a large amount of data available, but extracting which data where the most relevant to approach a circularity project proved to be challenging. Through the Circular Canvas, actors were able to extract and highlight the data which were key towards understanding how Bathô could best align with the region’s objectives and needs.
“The Circular Canvas allowed us to bring forward and highlight the technical and concrete problems we may face in our design process”
Didier Toquier
Founder Bathô

The Circular Canvas forces you to think about the most relevant areas of your business, or the one you are analyzing, with a triple-bottom-line approach. It allows you to maximize the sustainability impact of your business model, whilst minimising negative externalities.

This tool is the key towards moving from a linear to a circular economy! 

As students who will shape tomorrow’s business landscape, we have a duty to adopt circularity in our design thinking process. So why not start now with the Circular Canvas?