Circular Economy : A Must For Sustainable Earth

In Clean Talk, Environment, News, Opinions, Products, Sustainability, Waste Management

What most industries do right now is: Take, Make and Dispose. Extract resources, process them into products, dispose off after use as waste. This is a linear system.

In a circular economy model, we learn from the Earth’s natural systems. Whatever nature produces, goes back to nature and this cycle indefinitely repeats (a very simple example would be, a plant grows from the soil, lives and uses water/resources, dies and decomposes back into soil providing nutrients for other plants).

Somebody’s waste is someone else’s food/resource. However-

  • You could make a “circular” product – but still not deal with human trafficking and slave labour.
  • You could make a “circular” product without necessarily shifting away from using materials that are harmful.
  • You could make a “circular” product – but not do a whole lot to regenerate the ecosystem within which it is made or renew the community it is made within.
  • You could make a “circular” product – but not put in place the recovery systems and processes to make sure that its circular potential is achieved. Cars that are near 100% recyclable in Europe lose that advantage when they’re shipped to countries without the systems infrastructure for recycling.

That’s why we need a whole-of-systems approach, one with the overall systems goal of regenerating ecosystems and renewing communities.

The major characterization of a circular economy is in the way products and services are planned and designed so waste is minimized and efficiencies are maximized. Recycling is but one component of a circular economy, to capture end-of-life materials and loop them back into the industrial process.

Other components include reuse, repair, re-manufacturing and refurbishing. These are all activities undertaken by companies based on a capitalist system. Many large multinational corporations, such as Philips, Dell, and BMW have started to adapt or expand their business models towards circular economy practices.

The most famous example of a Circular Economy business is Philips Lighting: Sustainable lighting. Another great example is Dell: Design for Environment who are also reprocessing plastic waste from the ocean Also Micheline Tyres: Tyres-as-a-service and you can read a case study conducted by Harvard Business School: Michelin: Tires-as-a-Service.

For smaller companies there is MIWA: WE STOP WASTE BEFORE IT HAPPENS. who designed a product delivery system to reduce waste.

The Circular Economy is, fundamentally, a business lead and driven set of initiatives as businesses are the ones that process natural resources to be sold to consumers. Therefore change starts with them.

Join Our Newsletter!

Love Clean Future? We love to tell you about our new stuff. Subscribe to newsletter!

Mobile Sliding Menu