Why Circular Economy Is the Future of Global Economy?
Published on: 14.04.2021
The circle asserts itself in nature
Even though gravity and size are the reasons why the Earth and other planets are nice and round, the presence of circular logic in the universe is obvious. As painter Wassily Kandinsky would say: “The circle is the most modest form, but asserts itself unconditionally.”
Moreover, natural selection favors circular symmetry in living beings namely eggs, fruit, seeds, sea urchins, medusas, and many others, for two reasons.
First, because the sphere occupies the minimum surface, it loses heat most slowly compared to other shapes.
Secondly, by not having any edges, it’s the most difficult shape to catch or bite.
In both cases, then, the sphere protects.
The question then arises: When will the world economy become nice, circular, and safer? It’s big enough for gravity to weigh in and to make the green transition from linear to circular economy real.
So, what is missing here?
Gravity, one of the four fundamental forces in the universe, is invisible. Maybe, that’s the reason why the economic model is taking so long to gravitate into the circular shape. The transition calls for visible and tangible action to scale up and accelerate the circular model. Such good action consists of anything that would raise awareness and educate producers and consumers on the economic and societal benefits of the circular system compared to the linear one.
We have already explained in a previous blog post the difference between linear and circular economy. In this post, we will focus on different aspects of the circular economy in specific industries.
“The circular economy concept highlights the notion of replacing the ‘end-of-life’ in current production and consumption practices by reducing, reusing, and recycling products and materials in production, distribution and consumption processes. Promoting circularity aims to accomplish sustainable development, and the circular economy has links to many of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) approved by the United Nations in 2015,” research on Circular Economy for Sustainable Development highlights.
Benefits of circular economy
The world is limited in raw materials and resources, and soon it will not be able to sustain the needs of its billions of inhabitants.
Raw material extraction, production, environmentally unfriendly design, consumption, in simple words the current take-make-waste model has a major impact on the environment. Extraction and production phases cause considerable CO2 emissions and pollution.
Measures and actions that promote re-use, eco-friendly designs, and waste prevention would benefit companies in different ways.
They could save more money through all their production chain;
Create new markets and gain customer loyalty;
Meet the changing needs and expectations of customers;
Stimulation of innovation;
Preservation of natural systems;
On the other hand, customers will be able to get better, more durable, and innovative products that will help them save more money and improve the overall quality of life.
The circular economy trends to watch and embrace in 2021
The COVID-19 and the post-pandemic recovery remain keywords in 2021. Yet, a resilient circular economy is essential to healing from the crisis. Now, there’s a need to reset the attempts for a system change that were gaining momentum before the pandemic outbreak.
Design is a key element in the green transition. In circular economy waste and pollution are removed by design. It doesn’t only mean to be eco-friendly, but also to enhance value creation potential.
This can be achieved by designing tools and products that can be versatile and repurposable in a wide array of industries.
Eco-design also relies on the creation of products and materials that don’t cause pollution. Eco-design has already proven track of success in various countries, but it needs supporting policies that make it a standard in various industries and products. For example, electric appliances can be recyclable or suitable for reuse. Moreover, they should be easier to repair, maintain, and repurpose.
This means that new policies must favor approaches that reduce consumption such as reuse and durability.
At the same time, construction products used in residential and infrastructural projects, batteries for electric vehicles, electronics will have to fit with the circular economy model.
Eco-design contributes towards achieving SDG 7 Affordable and Clean Energy, SDG 8 Decent Work and Economic Growth, SDG 9 Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, SDG 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities, SDG 12 Responsible Consumption and Production, and SDG 13 Climate Action.
Food production and distribution
The health crisis confirmed that food systems can be highly vulnerable to unexpected challenges. Moreover, the existing agricultural models remain questionable in terms of their impact on the environment, supply chain issues, etc.
According to the ellenmacarthurfoundation: “In a circular economy, organic resources such as those from food by-products, are free from contaminants and can safely be returned to the soil in the form of organic fertiliser. Some of these by-products can provide additional value before this happens by creating new food products, fabrics for the fashion industry, or as sources of bioenergy. These cycles regenerate living systems, such as soil, which provide renewable resources, and support biodiversity.”
Circular economy in the food production and distribution industry contributes to achieving:
SDG 2 Zero Hunger, Target 2.3: “By 2030, double the agricultural productivity and incomes of small-scale food producers, in particular women, indigenous peoples, family farmers, pastoralists and fishers, including through secure and equal access to land, other productive resources, and inputs, knowledge, financial services, markets and opportunities for value addition and non-farm employment.”
Target 2.4: “By 2030, ensure sustainable food production systems and implement resilient agricultural practices that increase productivity and production, that help maintain ecosystems, that strengthen capacity for adaptation to climate change, extreme weather, drought, flooding, and other disasters and that progressively improve land and soil quality.”
Textile and fashion
The fashion industry is one of the major polluters in the world. Here are some facts from one of our blog posts on sustainable fashion:
Textile waste is the source of over 31 percent of microfibers’ pollution in marine habitats. Those are pieces of plastic that will never biodegrade. Each year, 500,000 tons of microfibers are released into the ocean from washing clothes.
Fashion production and supply chain account for ten percent of the total carbon emissions. That’s more emissions than all maritime shipping and international flights combined.
The fashion industry drains up water resources. It takes 2,600 liters of water to make a cotton shirt and 7,500 liters of water to make a pair of jeans. Cotton farming dried up the Aral Sea in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan over 50 years. It caused desertification of the area, toxic levels of sodium chloride, pesticides, and other carcinogens that are part of every level of the food chain.
Textile dyeing is one of the top largest polluters of water, globally.
The circular economy in textiles and apparel starts with consumer attitudes. Back in November 2020, a new strain of COVID-19 was found in mink farms in Denmark and consequently, 17 million minks were culled. This case sparked a major debate on the use of fur in fashion as a promoter of animal cruelty and major health risks. Recently, big fashion brands have decided to go fur-free only because of the growing number of customer that seek-ethical goods.
Such cases confirm that customer pressure can drive the transition to better practices. People, as end buyers must be aware of their power and role in changing the world. Given that a circular economy is the only choice we have to make sure that the future generation doesn’t inherit a damaged world to the point that it can never be fixed, everyone needs to take action.
Ready for action: bring ideas to life
Sustainable entrepreneurship is one way to make this possible. The Entrepreneurship Campus provides free online training on sustainable entrepreneurship. This course along with the ‘Brains versus Capital’ course, helps to reinforce education and skill acquisition for all the people who had no entrepreneurial training in their formal education.
The Campus also provides people of all ages the opportunity to get started with an entrepreneurial idea or project through the Citizen Entrepreneurship Competition 2021. Anyone eager to make a positive change is invited to join with an idea or project and learn the steps of how to go from idea to action.