Five questions for Sander Jahilo
Polestar Circularity Lead Sander Jahilo on circularity, the environment, and young people calling out politicians.
What is the best part of your job?
Learning. Since circularity is embedded into every part of making a car, through materials, suppliers, manufacturing, engineering, business models, maintenance, and end-of-life, I constantly get to go down diverse rabbit holes which are revealing about the way we and the industry work. It’s both interesting and helpful.
How does the reality of your job compare with what people think you do?
People don’t really know what a circular lead does so I’m free from preconceptions in that sense. At the same time, I am also constantly inventing what it is that a circular lead does. I would say the day-to-day of my work is that I do a lot of coordination between different departments and projects, which means that a lot of my time goes into emails and meetings. Also, I am often pulled into different streams of work to help build greater circularity capacity, or to advise on matters related to chemicals, environmental impact, recyclability, etc. Every day is quite unique.
What are the trends that are currently shaping your area of work?
A big focus in circularity is how to decouple economic growth from material extraction growth. We’ve been quite unsuccessful at that as a society, but the alternative business models that could help us are not appealing enough to consumers and producers yet. So, a lot of innovators are having a go at developing products and services that could show the way. In many cases, the technology to enable efficient use of the Earth’s resources exists, but what is missing are incentives to adopt those technologies.
What has happened or changed in your area of work over the last ten years?
10 years ago, circularity was not “thing”, and its tasks were covered by those in environmental management roles where you mainly had to comply with environmental regulations and act reactively. If you want to be truly sustainable nowadays, you actually have to embed circularity much more strategically, impacting the organization at a deeper level. So, the role and relevance of sustainability work has increased a lot over the last 10 years.
What makes you hopeful for the future?
Seeing young people and children being so passionate about the environment, calling out politicians and companies for not doing enough. I can see that their awareness and willingness to change is much higher than that of older generations, so that gives me some hope.
Cleaner air and cleaner streets on Earth Day
April 22nd, 2022 marks the 52nd anniversary of the global environmental movement known as Earth Day. Launched in America in 1970, it was (in part) a reaction to the massive consumption of leaded gas for automobiles, and the air pollution that followed.