Circular economy: How a Brazilian cosmetics company is reviving the Amazon forest

Leading Brazilian cosmetics company Natura launched its ‘Amazon Program’ in 2011 aiming at achieving an inclusive business model. The Ekos Ucuuba product line is one example. Combining its bio-intelligence and community knowledge, Natura extracts seed oil from ucuuba trees, which are threatened with extinction, as the core product ingredient.

Social Challenges:

The increased exploitation of timber and other natural materials in the Amazon Forest over the last 30 years has led this region to face the threat of biodiversity losses which in turn affect greater climate issues. Also, local labours are often exploited by middle-men to work under unfair conditions.

Business Model:

Natura discovered that the oil extracted from ucuuba nut (main photo) is a powerful moisturizer, based on the research that locals often use ucuuba to make tea, candle, incense, and skin products due to its therapeutic benefits. Incorporating with eco-efficient packaging, Natura developed a brand new product line which generates profits, contributes to the forest restoration, and provides a fair work environment for more than 600 families. Natura states that trees are three times more valuable standing up rather than being cut down, demonstrating the economic incentives to avoid the linear extraction of natural assets.

Circular Economy 2.0 adds the social dimension, to the Circular Economy, by designing poverty out of our system on top of designing waste out:

  • The root cause of our environmental challenges is Waste. Waste is designed out in Circular Economy;
  • The root cause of our social challenges is Poverty. Poverty and Waste are both designed out in Circular Economy 2.0;

Both Poverty and Waste do not exist in Nature as it exists in our Human world. Both should be designed out.

To achieve this, the Circular Economy 2.0 proposes three additional Principles on top of the current three “Safe Circular Principles”(1), these are the “Just Circular Principles” (2), using The Doughnut Economy wording.

Circular Equity Principle 4

Not having to participate in illegal logging as well as being exploited by middle-men, community members are able to enjoy equity.

Circular Access Principle 5

Community members earn 3 times more to maintain ucuuba trees in order to harvest the fruits than selling the ucuuba timber.

Circular Ability Principle 6

Natura works with 15 supplier communities and more than 600 families, generating long-term, sustainable employment opportunities.

The ultimate objective of the Circular Economy 2.0 is to Optimize Circular Value (#OCV) since we have now embedded Humans within the model (only Humans perceive Value).

For more information about Natura Brazil:

(1) The current “Safe Circular Principles” suggested by The Ellen MacArthur Foundation are:

  • Safe Principle #1 “Preserve and enhance Natural Capital by controlling finite stocks and balancing renewable resource flows”;
  • Safe Principle #2 “Optimize resource yields by circulating products, components and material at the highest utility at all times in both technical and biological cycles”;
  • Safe Principle #3 “Foster system effectiveness by revealing and designing out negative externalities”;

(2) In Circular Economy 2.0, we add three socially inclusive principle as we recognize Humans as a valuable assets for our future. We embed them into the concept of Circular Economy thanks to a Humansphere. The additional “Just Circular Principles” are:

  • Just Principle #4 “Equity makes business sense as services could be design to address the needs of all”;
  • Just Principle #5 “Developing people’s ability promoting any means of exchange is a priority as one should be accessing more with less in a service-based economy”;
  • Just Principle #6 “Using labour is innovative as in a systemic regenerative model all abundantly available renewable energies should be considered”.

Guest post by Joanne (Hsin-Yuan) Lin and Alexandre Lemille

This article was originally published here


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