Expert Insights

Expert Insights gives voice to the Urban Insights initiative. We bring you closer to the authors and influencers who have helped to shape and form the Urban Insight initiative and reports.

Alastair Carruth

Alastair Carruth is a consultant within the waste and resource management group in the environment division of Sweco Sweden. He has a background in waste management but has been involved in numerous circular economy projects since 2013.

From your point of view, what does a circular economy mean?
“The development of a deliberate and designed process for returning resources back to the system in a self-sustaining manner.”

What are the most important steps to take right now?
“Demonstration of the benefits in clear terms that decision makers understand. We need to avoid the hazy visions of circular systems and just be specific about what the environmental and financial savings are and what changes you have to make. And what the risks of not doing so are.”

“We don’t just talk about the goals, we talk about the road towards those goals.”

Read the trend report: Circular construction – an opportunity we can’t waste.

What makes Sweco’ s expertise in circular projects unique?
“We can actually tell you how to get there. We don’t just talk about the goals, we talk about the road towards those goals. We can help with practical solutions, whether they are within design or engineering, or systems that use digitalisation.” I am not sure if this makes Sweco “unique” but sometimes it’s simply about being better, which I believe Sweco is.”

Circularity in five years, where will we be by then?
“I think we will arrive at a tipping point where circular type models and approaches become the accepted norm. We’re seeing more adoption of business models where products are returned to production instead of being disposed. We have loads of tools, information and data about the benefits of circular approaches that will make it a no-brainer to adopt them. We’ll probably look back and wonder why on earth were we making, using then disposing of things. In 5 years’ time we will be much closer to that.”

Sweco´s cross-border knowledge platform, Urban Insights, will highlight and discuss the transition towards greater sustainability and circularity in urban areas. Together with experts, scientists and the public, we will discuss key steps we must take to achieve net zero cities and societies.

Tune into our podcast Building Back Better to explore the transition to resilient, climate-neutral cities, and read more about the theme Towards Circularity!