I thought with this post, I provide a little explanation to one my favourite topics, because I mentioned it quite a few times I’m my posts. I’m an economist – well, I have a Master Degree in international economics which was expensive and never really landed me in a job – and I find it it very fascinating but also worrying to witness how the global economy is changing, partially thanks to climate change.
Economic growth as the only measurement of how well are we collectively doing – already seems outdated.
Our current, western lifestyle is built on the “take – make – throw away” or otherwise called as the linear model. You can see this happening all the time: products made as cheaply as possible, sold as cheaply as possible and when they broke down, they go to landfill. You know that, there must be something wrong when you hear: “oh just buy a new one, it’s cheaper to fix it!”. It shouldn’t be like this.
But that’s not all, the other problem is the obsession of constantly buying new stuff. The special editions, the latest version, the newly updated things and of course the next season’s arrivals of fashion items. Everything is designed to last only for a short period of time so that you have to (or you will want to) purchase the next. And this puts an enormous pressure on our planet, 8 billion people using its resources up normally by mid year: with Earth Overshoot Day creeping earlier and earlier each year. (A country’s overshoot day is the date on which Earth Overshoot Day would fall if all of humanity consumed like the people in this country. Then they calculate an average including all countries in the world.) You can calculate your own ecological footprint here.
So clearly, the way we produce and consume is unsustainable. Everything in nature operates in cycles – humans need to create an economic system based on cycles too.
And here comes circular economy in the picture.
What is circular economy?
Circular economy is a model of production and consumption, which involves sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing and recycling existing materials and products as long as possible. In this way, the life cycle of products is extended.
To the minimum. This is one of the main pillars of circular economy. When a product reaches the end of its life, its materials are kept within the economy wherever possible, using them again and again so it creates further value.
Better for the environment
Climate change happens because we burn fossil fuels and throw away the waste—carbon dioxide that is—into the atmosphere, into the air. But nothing can be really thrown away – it will still remain somewhere on Earth. Remanufacturing typically uses 85% less energy than manufacturing. Less resources used and wasted.
Positive change in society
A circular economy also aims to redefine growth, focusing on positive society-wide benefits. It would create new industries all together based on new skills and stimulating innovations, boost the economy and create new jobs.
Of course, an important pillar is the transition to renewable energy sources. adopting a circular economy could involve 70% cuts in carbon emissions by 2030, according to a recent Club of Rome study of five European economies.
For the many
The concept recognises the importance of the economy needing to work effectively at all scales – for large and small businesses, for organisations and individuals, globally and locally.
Better quality of life
Sustainable world does not mean a drop in the quality of life for consumers and can be achieved without loss of revenue or extra costs for manufacturers. The argument is that circular business models can be as profitable as linear models, allowing us to keep enjoying similar products and services.