Imagine a World with Zero waste and the impact or possibly resultant effects on the globe and the Environment in entirety.
Linearly, raw materials are continually tapped from the environment in their ores or in other derivable forms and further transformed into products then disposed after usage. The cycle continues in that pattern =>Cradle to Grave
In a Circular economy model, zero waste is ensured and thus, resources are continually reuse, recycled, refurbished or remanufactured. The cycle continues => Cradle to Cradle
What is a Circular Economy?
A Circular economy is simply an economic system primarily focused at eliminating waste and the renewal of resources for use. It entails the adoption of the following:
Circular Economy is a system that is restorative and regenerative by design. It replaces the conventional 'end-of-life' concept with a shift towards renewing resources.
This is aimed at maintaining a core area of Circular Economy which is 'Cradle to Cradle' rather than the conventional 'Cradle to Grave' approach.
Ellen McArthur Foundation’s Definition Of Circular Economy
“Looking beyond the current take-make-dispose extractive industrial model, a circular economy aims to redefine growth, focusing on positive society-wide benefits. It entails gradually decoupling economic activity from the consumption of finite resources and designing waste out of the system. Underpinned by a transition to renewable energy sources, the circular model builds economic, natural, and social capital. It is based on three principles: design out waste and pollution; keep products and materials in use; regenerate natural systems.”
A disruptive change is pertinent for sustainable development. The Circular Economy model is disrupting the normal business ecosystem.
Business models for Circular economy can be as profitable as linear models, allowing consumers to enjoy similar products and services rather than spend more on creating new products repeatedly using different raw materials thus, depleting the Earth.
PRINCIPLES OF CIRCULAR ECONOMY
1 The Principles Of The Circular Economy: Energy and Resources
A circular economy is based on the idea that there is no such thing as waste. To achieve this aim, products are designed to be eco-friendly. Nature is also preserved by controlling finite stocks with a balance from renewable resources flows.
2 The Principles Of The Circular Economy: Following Nature’s Cycles And Designs
Likened to biological cycles, where materials are designed to be fed back into the system through anaerobic digestion and composting.
Technical cycles are engineered for recover and restore of products to curtail waste.
3 The Principles Of The Circular Economy: All In With Renewable Energies
Energy required to power the cycle should be renewed naturally with the aim of minimizing resource from depleting.
BENEFITS OF CIRCULAR ECONOMY
Circular Economy is aimed at fighting volatility that emanates from climate change from linear economic approach to businesses. Benefits of circular economy cuts across the triple bottom line of sustainability (Economy, Environment and Society). The benefits that accrues from circular economy adoption are seen below:
1 Fewer Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Circular economy is poised at combating excessive exploitation of natural resources. Circular economy has the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and decrease negative externalities. Circular economy decreases greenhouse gas emissions by utilizing renewable energy products, reusing materials and recycling.
2 Increased Potential For Economic Growth
Revenue boost is obtainable from circular economy through purchases of products that are eco-friendly, easily disassembled, reusable and recyclable as these products have the potential to save cost, resources and time.
3 Employment Growth
According to the ‘world economic forum‘, the development of a circular economy model, together with a new regulation (including taxation) and organization of the labor markets, can bring greater local employment in entry-level and semi-skilled jobs.
Following adoption of a Circular economy business model, employment and job opportunities will be sprouting in diverse recycling companies (Plastic, Paper, Glass, etc).
Aside from direct employments, the value chain will also provide more opportunities for skilled and unskilled labour force.
4 Reduced dependence on importation of raw materials
Apparently, renewing resources from waste for further continual and repeated processing, will reduce the dependency rates for the importation of raw materials by countries.
Imagine a scenario where countries recycle, reuse or refurbish their e-waste, paper waste, glass waste or plastic waste; it will preserve the environment in the long run, save the economy and protect people from calamity arising from negligence.
CHALLENGES OF CIRCULAR ECONOMY
Amidst the rapid adoption by businesses, academics and politicians, there critics and challenges faced by the Circular economy. Concepts such as; achievability, desirability and weaknesses constitutes some of the challenges. The following points further buttress the challenges
1 Achievability and desirability
Is a circular economy 100% achievable? Specific hazardous waste, such as mercury or asbestos might also reach a dead end in recyclability but must be contained off the cycle. As the second law of thermodynamics states
“all spontaneous processes irreversibly disperse energy (and as a consequence, matter) into ever more chaotic states”
In today’s recycling processes impurities of used materials can only be removed to a certain extent. These limitations have well been perceived by legislators: the European Commission for instance, in its first attempt to frame a Circular Economy directive, set long term recycling objectives up to 70%, the remaining 30% beings considered as non-recyclable materials.
2 Missing Social sustainability off the circle
Deeply committed to environmental sustainability, the Circular economy lacks a coherent description of the social aspect of sustainability that features human needs. It principles are basically, business and environmentally minded.
Some jobs created by the Circular economy are not evenly distributed locally across all parts of the Earth.
Despite all these challenges, the principles carried out by the circular economy offer lots of promises. It reconciles the triple bottom line of sustainability
CAN ALL MATERIALS BE RECYCLED?