Waste is known as an unwanted resource. But is that fair? Perhaps it is simply in need of a creative movement, set to change perception about the way we use, deal, and think about our most common by-products.
In this ‘take, make and throw away’ world, we’re constantly surrounded by stuff and things (and more things and more stuff). Quickly, easily, and without thinking, our casual collections become waste. Whether it be a finished coffee cup, an old phone or an unwanted gift from grandma, our waste runs so rampant in our everyday life, it’s now become invisible.
The circular economy, reuses and recycles materials, producing little waste.
By looking at the whole system, treating all materials as valuable, and shifting to new marketplace models that minimize the amount of resources needed in the first place, the circular economy is based on resource productivity and how we can get the most from what we use. Waste gets designed out of the system.
The Circular Economy is flipping waste on its head by presenting new ways to look at use of resources.
In order to pursue and practice clean and sustainable development, India and Germany will collaborate to focus on circular economy and water management. The circular economy, which aims to eradicate waste by optimum utilization of raw material during manufacturing and recycling waste and discarded products, is fast catching the attention of governments globally.
In a world of close to 9 billion people expected by 2030 – including 3 billion new middle-class consumers – the
challenges of expanding resource supply to meet future demand are unprecedented. The current “take-make-dispose” approach results in massive waste; in the fast-moving consumer goods sector alone, about 80% of the $3.2 trillion material value is lost irrecoverably each year. Commodity prices rose overall by almost 150% in 2002-2010, erasing the real price declines of the last 100 years.Experts have calculated that without a rethink of how society uses materials in the linear economy, elements such as gold, silver, indium, iridium, tungsten and many others vital for industry could be depleted within the next 5 to 50 years. As these trends put pressure on companies, business leaders are looking for a better hedge to avoid such risks – a system that decouples revenues from material input.
The Circular Economy is generating thousands of new jobs, creating huge investment and designing with a conscience.
Waste generated by current industrial models creates extensive environmental and health hazards. Plastic pollution is amassing in the oceans, causing harm to ecosystems and seeping into the seafood people eat. Land filling creates both short- and long-term risks for human health through harmful leach ate, dust, odor, local traffic burden and powerful greenhouse gas emissions. Models that reconcile the outlook for growth with environmental prudence and equity are needed now.The circular economy is a redesign of the future, where industrial systems are restorative and regenerative by intention and design. The quality of products is defined beyond traditional metrics, to encompass positive effects on economies, ecology and social health. In this future, growth need not happen at the cost of environmental health. The potential for innovation, job creation and economic development is huge: estimates indicate a trillion-dollar opportunity, and numerous global trends suggest the time is ripe for change.
Our relationship with the products and services we purchase could be radicalized under a circular economy. What if we didn’t buy the goods we use, but instead favored access and performance over ownership? The ‘pay per use’ contractual agreements associated with smartphones for example could be extended to standard goods such as washing machines, clothes and DIY equipment. Philips, Kingfisher Group and Mud Jeans are already piloting product-as-service models, which would see us become users rather than consumers. Such a shift would not only allow companies to retain product ownership for easier repair, reuse and re manufacture, but might result in producer responsibility obligations being extended to users as part of the purchase agreement.