Understanding The Circular Economy

With the UK government pledging its commitment to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050, we are making history and setting the benchmark by being the first major economy to strive for this target. The question is – how can the UK and other economies achieve this? How we feed ourselves, travel and power our homes and businesses will all need to change. How we think about everything we purchase is thrown into sharp focus. Are we ready for this change and how can we get there? The answer lies in a true Circular Economy where we reuse everything we produce – a continuous cycle of replenishment.

The Circular Economy

Drowning In Plastic

The world is producing more and more plastic every year. UK plastic waste exports increased yet again in May 2019 to 27.4 million kg – that’s 5200 shipping containers. Where does this all go? To counties like Indonesia, Malaysia and Turkey being the top receiver at 12.5 million kg. So how can we turn this around? A true circular economy will help to eliminate this continuous flow of single use and non recyclable plastics that will eventually be burned or dumped in the sea in these countries. But it is much wider than this – it also touches sustainable food (food waste) and textiles (fast fashion). In a linear economy, which most of the world follows, is one of make, use and dispose. A circular economy values all resources which are kept for as long as possible, the maximum value is then extracted from that resource, it is recovered and used to create new products and materials until completely depleted.

Infrastructure, Education and Citizenship

The UK economy could be transformed but it needs to be embraced at every level of business and society. By relooking at how we design products, how we make them, how we sell them, how we transport and deliver items to consumers and by supporting consumers to recycle afterwards – we can work towards a world with less waste.

By encouraging consumers to do less consuming and by taking ownership of their purchasing to become citizens, we can make real change. It comes down to the humble wheelie bin outside everyone’s home.  The infrastructure needs to be in place to collect waste for reuse rather than waste export. Brands and packaging engineers need to design with the end in mind, to enable citizens to recycle and re-purpose packaging to place it back correctly into the Circular Economy. That’s the vision that will deliver net zero emissions by 2050.

Waste management

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