Neutrality, or “do no further harm,” is increasingly seen as an insufficient ambition considering the natural capital losses and climate tipping points, which threaten the health, security, and livelihoods of billions. There is growing recognition that efforts to restrain climate change and halt biodiversity loss will not be successful unless we address them together as part of a broader holistic approach.

In the following article we will have a closer look at how I believe nature-inspired innovation can support the business in building regenerative Value Chains for the future.

What is Regeneration and nature inspired innovation all about?
Regeneration is a concept that addresses challenges comprehensively and provides Business and Value Chain leaders with a framework for creating and protecting long-term value, one that aligns the organization to new value drivers, encourages innovation, and builds the resilience of the company.

Nature-inspired innovation refers to the process of drawing inspiration from the natural world to develop new products, processes, technologies, and solutions. It involves studying and imitating biological systems, processes, and strategies found in nature, and applying these concepts to the planet and societies.

Nature-inspired innovation is based on the understanding that natural systems have undergone millions of years of evolution, resulting in highly optimized and efficient designs. By mimicking natural processes, structures, and behavior’s, nature-inspired innovation can lead to the development of products and technologies that are more energy-efficient, durable, and adaptable.

Regeneration and nature-inspired innovation are interconnected through their shared focus on sustainability and the emulation of natural systems. Regeneration refers to the process of renewing, revitalizing, and restoring the health of ecosystems and communities, aiming to create a more sustainable and resilient environment for future generations. Nature-inspired innovation, on the other hand, involves deriving inspiration from the natural world to create sustainable solutions to human challenges and technological advancements.

In the following we will have a pragmatic and tangible closer look at how you can transform and use Regeneration and Nature Inspired innovation to create the Regenerative Value Chain of the future.

How can you build the regenerative Value Chain of the future?

Reduce use of fossil fuels:
 Biodegradable materials, such as bioplastics made from plant-based sources like corn or sugarcane, can reduce greenhouse gas emissions compared to traditional plastics derived from fossil fuels. The production of fossil fuel-based plastics involves extracting and processing crude oil, which releases carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gasses. Biodegradable materials can help lower emissions by using renewable resources and reducing the reliance on fossil fuels.

Lower energy consumption: Biodegradable materials often require less energy to produce compared to their non-biodegradable counterparts. The manufacturing processes for biodegradable materials can be more energy-efficient, resulting in lower overall energy consumption. This helps to reduce the carbon footprint associated with production.

Waste reduction: Biodegradable materials can help address the problem of waste accumulation. When disposed of properly, these materials can break down naturally through biological processes, such as microbial decomposition or composting, returning to the environment without causing long-term pollution. By reducing waste, biodegradable materials help to alleviate the need for landfill space and decrease the release of harmful pollutants associated with waste decomposition.

Regenerative resource management: Biodegradable materials often use renewable resources. The demand for non-renewable resources, like fossil fuels, can be reduced by relying on these renewable feedstocks. Regenerative resource management is crucial for long-term environmental sustainability and helps to minimize the depletion of finite resources. However, it is important to note that while biodegradable materials offer certain advantages, their effectiveness in addressing climate change is context dependent. Factors such as production methods, end-of-life management, and overall lifecycle analysis must be considered to ensure that biodegradable materials provide a net benefit compared to conventional alternatives.

Summing up–- what can you do as a Value Chain Leader? How can you transform your company’s Value Chain?

Get closer to your customers: Understand the critical touchpoints of the customer journey to design a Value Chain able to respond to the extremes of customer preferences.

Empower employees: Shift the organization from siloed to end-to-end, reduce hierarchies and chains of command, empower employees to use data to make informed decisions and allow them to take risks and celebrate lessons from failure. Instil an innovation culture among employees and commit to making innovation a day-to-day responsibility across the Value Chain.

Give the operating model a re-check: Align the Value Chain operating model to new business modes. Move away from solely achieving efficiency. Embrace agility, visibility, and adaptability

Break down silos
We must remember that the regenerative principles are not played out in a dedicated department within the organization. The designed products and services determine it. How and where did they develop? With which materials and energy? In what conditions? Are they toxic to human health or ecosystems? Do they generate waste during their life cycle? Are they well taught in terms of customer experience? Are they repairable? Do they facilitate reuse? Are they recovered?

To design well it is necessary to step back and design the basic function to which it wishes to respond. This is the way for the company and its purpose to prosper in the long run through a continuous improvement process.

“Nature does not know the concert of waste; the only species capable of making something no one desires are the human species” (Gunter, 2011).

Explore new product design strategies
Material efficiency and circularity, namely the practice of encouraging resume. recycling or sustainability in manufacturing in consumption and manufacturing represent a significant opportunity to decrease industrial emissions given the high energy intensity of materials production.

Enable recycling and reuse in operations and across the Value Chain
Strategies to pursue material circularity in operations include increased recycling and reusing materials and components in good condition.

Integrate bio circular solutions
Bio-circular economy involves incorporating materials that can safely biodegrade in nature without the help of industrial processes. By only allowing good materials into the loop, you ensure that if there is a spillage, there is no damage because the materials are non-toxic to human life and the environment.

Design strategies to maximize product life: Achieving resource circularity is essential to solving the problems of waste, greenhouse gas emissions, and resource overconsumption, and ultimately creating an opportunity for regeneration. However, circularity brings unique business challenges. The companies with the necessary mass and imperative to act most aggressively are the consumer products and energy companies sitting at the nexus of resource-intensive Value Chains. As they seek to influence consumer behavior, packaging, product reuse, energy consumption and decarbonization, these companies realize they must pivot from participating in linear Value Chains to actively orchestrating regenerative ecosystems.

Reduce yield losses in operations
Manufacturers must find occasions to reduce yield loss within operations and the production chain. Key opportunities include working with suppliers on material shapes and geometries that minimize waste or promote research and development (R&D) of new manufacturing processes that cut yield losses.