What Is the Circular Economy and Where Does It Lead? – Take, make, utilize, discard. This has been the mainstream method to production and consumption for decades. Companies turn raw resources into goods that are eventually discarded by customers, resulting in garbage that is deposited in landfills and seas. Concerned about climate change and environmental damage, individuals are questioning the viability of this linear paradigm and advocating for a so-called circular economy based on the principles of take, make, use, reuse, and reuse again.
What is the problem with the linear economy?
It often results in an inefficient, wasteful, and resource-depleting system. Gold and coal mining may be detrimental to ecosystems and disturb populations. The production of steel from ore takes a substantial amount of energy, which results in the emission of carbon dioxide. The linear model generates material waste, which occupies space and may include toxins that damage biodiversity. Scientists discovered microplastics in human blood for the first time this year, and the dangers to public health are now unclear.
Is the circular economy same to recycling?
Both concepts are linked, but a circular economy is more ambitious and systematic. In a linear economy, the majority of recyclable items can only be downcycled, meaning they lose quality with each subsequent life cycle and finally become garbage. A totally circular economy would not need any further material inputs, hence minimizing emissions, waste, and ultimately expenses.
Some sectors are already close to achieving this; for instance, almost all of an automobile can be retrieved. Other sectors, such as the fashion industry, have a long way to go: every second, the equivalent of a truckload of clothing is discarded or burnt. In addition to enhancing recycling infrastructure, a circular economy would educate individuals on their consumption patterns. This concept is not novel. During World War II, the phrase “make do and mend” was promoted to urge as little waste as possible.
Are there grounds for skepticism?
Plenty. Creating a manufacturing cycle that is completely self-sufficient is almost difficult. Some inputs will always be required, and waste will always be produced. Critics argue that it is impossible to assess the environmental consequences of a circular economy since the term might refer to anything from upgrading recycling systems to streamlining the sharing economy via technology.
Creating a circular economy also necessitates substantial up-front expenditures, as firms must invest in additional technology and educate staff and customers to adopt new behaviors. There is worry that corporations are building circular systems in just portions of their operations, making long-term sustainability harder to attain. Some argue that the circular economy will just postpone the linear economy’s harmful environmental repercussions.
Investing in supply networks that are more circular. This may include switching to recycled materials, prolonging the product’s longevity, and enhancing its recovery at the end of its life. SC Johnson & Son Inc. and Unilever Plc are creating refillable cleaning product and laundry detergent packaging. Siemens Gamesa is the first company in Germany to deploy wind turbines with recyclable blades.
BlackRock Inc. manages a Circular Economy Fund that enables investors to contribute to the transformation of businesses to the new model. As of August, the firm managed about $2 billion in assets. Consumers are primarily accountable for enterprises’ transition to a circular economy. As vintage and antiques have made a resurgence in recent years, more people are buying at thrift stores for apparel and furniture, for instance.
What actions are countries taking?
They are building action plans and making international pledges to encourage consumers and producers to shift toward a more circular economy. 175 countries started negotiating a legally enforceable agreement to prevent plastic pollution in March. Countries such as Canada are outlawing single-use plastics, such as checkout bags, cutlery, and straws, compelling businesses to invest in eco-friendly alternatives.
In March of 2020, the European Commission announced a new circular economy action plan. Regionally, Amsterdam’s Sharing Economy Action Plan has promoted the formation of firms such as LENA, a “fashion library” that allows users to rent high-end antique apparel for a monthly fee.
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