The current economy runs in a manner where we utilize natural resources for our benefit. Eventually depleting these resources for future generations. The circular economy is the exact opposite of this, it is the process of reusing and recycling materials that are already existing in the current economy, minimizing waste and pollution.
It is definitely the future of this planet – and tackles big issues such as pollution, climate change and sustainability, biodiversity, and waste. The process of maximizing the lifetime of the materials we use. Optimizing the usage, and re-utilizing all of these materials is one of the most sustainable business models that the world has now picked up.
More than just recycling
Recycling existing materials in use in the current economic model is most certainly a part of the solution. However, this is not the only thing humans and companies should adopt. Recycled materials are downgraded materials as opposed to the original materials; and have a lesser lifetime value than the virgin materials – thus, there is still a demand for them. A circular economy is a process of restoring the entire system of industries internally; that is to minimize the use of energy.
Tackling the Plastic Problem
Single-use plastics are the biggest problem the world is facing today. As many reports say, by 2050 the ocean will have more plastics than fish. This is because only less than 13% of the world’s plastic production is picked up for recycling, and only 2% is put back into the value chain.
The majority of the multinational companies contribute to this disastrous practice. However, industrial plastic packaging manufacturer are now looking at a variety of options such as using materials that have more value than the initial use.
Consumers’ behavioral change
Life as we know it will change for consumers upon the activation of a circular economy. Products that consume a lot of energy can be used as service models rather than products one owns. For example, washing machines could be used as a service – as a pay-per-use option, where the users will become consumers of these services. This will allow individuals to minimalize their carbon footprint. Companies to own products and create more sustainable, high-quality versions of the same.
Business change to take the lead
It is the businesses that drive consumers’ behavioral change – and in order to do that. It’s the businesses that need to change intrinsically from raw material sourcing to manufacturing to production. These models should be changed based on maintaining the lifetime value of products. Re-manufacturing from existing materials, increasing product performance, etc. SMEs could be the driver of this change to the consumers as their scale is much smaller compared to multinational companies.
The way toward a circular economy should be a collaborative effort from governments, businesses, and consumers. While individuals today will choose to do otherwise for their own selfish reasons, the longevity of the human race will probably depend on our actions today; hence, taking the step in the right direction is a collective decision we must actively take.