To understand what the Circular Economy is we first need some context:

The world we live in is broken in many ways. The traditional linear thinking and approach to manufacturing have caused enormous damage. Statistically, more than 1.2 trillion gallons of industrial waste is pumped into the American water supply every year. Moreover, more than half of the American lakes are polluted by industry. 

Globally, pollution affects more than 100 million people, it ruins ecosystems, leads to the extinction of fauna and flora in some regions of the world, and participates in the irreversible climate and environmental changes we’ve all witnessed for the past few decades. 

That’s the bad news. The good news is that there are solutions to all this — and if we’re thinking of manufacturing, energy, transportation, and other “heavy” industries (as well as others), “circular economy” is the term we are looking for. 

What Is the Circular Economy?

It is a concept defined by the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) almost 20 years ago. It aims to make sure products and systems are used, reused, or recycled for as long as possible to recover their useful value. In essence, it is about slowing down the rate at which resources are extracted.

For example, in the case of electronics, it is about ensuring that products have a second or even third life after their initial use. Reducing single-use products will have an immense impact on pollution and the consumption of natural resources. It also has economic incentives behind it — more second uses can generate income for governments, businesses, and consumers alike.

We are currently on a path towards a circular economy where resources are continually reused in a closed-loop. This approach to recycling will become more and more important as our materials become scarce following industrialization and technological advances. 

The world of business is also changing with new ideas such as business-as-service models coming to the fore. As well as reusing old stocks, companies can avoid obsolescence by using their own turnarounds in products such as fashion pieces or cars back into their supply chains.

Why Is the Circular Economy a Better Choice? 

The benefits of circular economy are huge — not only in terms of reduced pollution and resource reduction but also economically. In a traditional linear economy, materials are extracted from the Earth, broken down, and manufactured into new products before being discarded. This approach requires a lot of energy and resources that must be used to extract raw materials from the ground. 

In contrast, a circular economic model would use fewer raw materials because there is no need for extraction. The raw materials are found in second-hand or recycled goods that only require refining if necessary. Moreover, it will require less money to buy these older products because they have lost value over time due to their age.

Who Is the Circular Economy For?

The concept of a circular economy is relevant to everyone and everything in the world. It is beneficial to companies who want to reduce their environmental footprint, governments who can levy taxes on products that are not reused, and consumers who can earn money by recycling used goods. 

In this article, we will be talking about the industrial part of the economy — the emergence of new materials and approaches that will help us achieve a more circular economic model. More than 40 companies from around the world are currently using them. Today’s chemistry can decompose almost any solid material into single molecules and transform them into new resources at an atomic level so there are no real worries about running out of resources.

The fact that the circular economy is now getting people’s attention means that we’re on the right path — and this is a good sign. 

It will take time but it’s something that needs to happen — and fast! We can’t keep living this way forever — the future of humankind depends on us producing less waste and recycling more resources.

Can YOU Participate?

In this context, you too may be wondering how to participate in the circular economy (and leave as much of the old “linear” model behind you as you possibly can). Some tips include: 

  1. Rent products and services in your business or at home — both of these things can be used to clean out your stock and improve the efficiency of your business.
  2. Reduce the use of plastic — it’s becoming more and more difficult to recycle it with governments putting pressure on recycling companies to increase their rates. To make sure you’re not contributing to the problem, try to buy products without plastic packaging where possible. 
  3. Refurbish products — you may already use some refurbished products in your daily life but you may not have considered how great a product could be if it had been recycled before you got hold of it! 
  4. Try to live with less — less meat, fewer materials, energy-efficient products — you will really notice the difference. 
  5. Keep moving! If you can afford it, consider buying second-hand cars or other vehicles instead of buying new ones. This makes sense in many countries as new cars are made from using up our natural resources like oil and metals. Alternatively, if you know you don’t use a car very often (such as if you live in or around a big city), consider the option of renting cars for shorter time spans (for as long as you need them). 
  6. Recycle everything! If you can’t use it, sell it or recycle it. There are so many second-hand companies these days that you don’t have to throw anything away anymore!
  7. Tell your friends about the circular economy! 

It’s easier than it sounds — and once these things become habit, you’ll look back and wonder why you didn’t start on it any sooner!