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  • This fortnightly podcast from the World Economic Forum features the world’s top changemakers, showcasing the habits and traits effective leaders can’t work without.
  • This global manufacturing company achieved carbon neutrality last fall. Its CEO Eric Rondolat will share the changes it made - and the lessons he learned.

The best way to go carbon neutral? One small step at a time.

That was strategy put forth by Eric Rondolat, CEO of Signify. This global manufacturer of lighting solutions and technologies achieved carbon neutrality last fall after years of hard work and changes that transformed everything from packaging to how it approached freight loading. The company took stock of factors such as emissions and involved departments throughout the company to bring about a full-systems change.


What is the World Economic Forum doing about the circular economy?

The World Economic Forum has created a series of initiatives to promote circularity.

1. Scale360° Playbook was designed to build lasting ecosystems for the circular economy and help solutions scale.

Scale360° Playbook Journey
Image: Scale360° Playbook

Its unique hub-based approach - launched this September - is designed to prioritize circular innovation while fostering communities that allow innovators from around the world to share ideas and solutions. Emerging innovators from around the world can connect and work together ideas and solutions through the UpLink, the Forum's open innovation platform.

Discover how the Scale360° Playbook can drive circular innovation in your community.

2. A new Circular Cars Initiative (CCI) embodies an ambition for a more circular automotive industry. It represents a coalition of more than 60 automakers, suppliers, research institutions, NGOs and international organizations committed to realizing this near-term ambition.

CCI has recently released a new series of circularity “roadmaps”, developed in collaboration with the World Economic Forum, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), McKinsey & Co. and Accenture Strategy. These reports explain the specifics of this new circular transition.

Connect to Learn More

3. The World Economic Forum’s Accelerating Digital Traceability for Sustainable Production initiative brings together manufacturers, suppliers, consumers and regulators to jointly establish solutions and provide a supporting ecosystem to increase supply chain visibility and accelerate sustainability and circularity across manufacturing and production sectors.

Connect to Learn More →

The company even re-imagined how it sold and designed certain lighting solutions. Through circular lighting, clients don't buy bulbs but purchase lighting as a service. With this approach, fixtures are designed to have a second and third life. Commercial clients - such as airports and arenas - can save money on these contracts, all while choosing an option that eliminates waste and increases the life cycle of its components.

These changes did not come about overnight, however. "It was small steps, systematically moving in the same direction - adapting along the way."

Incremental improvements are critical to making meaningful change, says Rondolat. Those with 5 to 7 years, he explains, approach problem solving differently than those with just two, and risk creating solutions that just might not last. "You'll do a little bit of everything and you may lie to yourself on what you're actually achieving."

World Economic Forum podcast Meet the Leader caught up with Rondolat to learn more about how he approaches sustainability and what the company is planning next after achieving carbon neutrality.

Listen to Meet The Leader's sister podcasts World Vs Virus, about the global pandemic, House On Fire, our 10-part environmental series, and The Great Reset, on the efforts to 'build back better'.

Articles by Eric:

A habit he can't work without: Consistency. Truly sustainable companies balance the internal and the external, and don't behave in a way that doesn't align with their values. "If you want this to work," he says, "You need to have an attitude towards the external world and your internal world which are completely consistent."

Advice for other leaders tackling carbon neutrality: "Stay the course. And start very early." Signify committed to carbon neutrality in 2015, but it had begun tackling its emissions earlier in the last decade. This helped the company adopt the mindset it needed to tackle other challenges. "The future is only built on what you are capable to manage and do today."