Circular Economy 101: What it is and why it matters for your business
, by Admin Account, 4 min reading time
Creating a world without waste – including human potential
, by Admin Account, 4 min reading time
No doubt you’ve heard of the circular economy. It’s a term that’s starting to crop up more and more. But perhaps you haven’t had the time to get up to speed on what it really means?
With so much going on in the world, that’s understandable. However, the circular economy represents the future for every business, not just here in Australia, but globally.
Trust us, this is one concept that you should take the time to understand as it has huge implications for your business.
The circular economy aims to extend the life and value of products we produce and consume. Instead of discarding products when they reach their supposed end of life, the circular economy finds ways to reuse, repair, refit, repurpose and recycle them.
Putting sustainability first, the circular economy reduces the need for new products and materials by breathing life into still-useful things. This approach not only provides economic benefits (e.g. cheaper products) it also improves social and environmental outcomes too.
By extending the life of a product, it prevents the over-generation of waste. Simultaneously, it also creates new business opportunities, jobs and revenue streams, while minimising the environmental impact of mining, resource extraction, refining and manufacture.
The three main principles underpinning the circular economy reimagine how we use and reuse goods by reducing waste and finding value throughout multiple products lifecycles.
Waste and pollution are byproducts of how we currently design things. The older the design process, the more likely it will negatively impact the environment. By changing our mindset to view waste as a design flaw (not an inevitability), we’re free to reimagine our processes. Adopting new technologies also helps limit, and even eliminate, waste and pollution.
With global resources dwindling, new products and materials must be kept in the economy for as long as possible. This means getting creative to ensure more products and components can be reused, repaired and remanufactured. Sustainable resource recovery and recycling processes are also vital in the fight to reduce still-useful things heading to landfill as waste.
Natural processes, such as the production of carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, water, etc., are circular and feature little to no loss of resources. The circular economy aims to create a self-sustaining economic model that protects, supports and actively improves our environment. This means reducing what we take from the planet and creating a feedback loop where nothing is wasted.
The existing linear model of consumption is simply not sustainable. Our resources are finite, even if our collective desire for new things seems infinite. With our oceans filling with plastic and our atmosphere heating up, we are rapidly reaching a tipping point.
Every year our global economy converts over 100 billion tonnes of raw material into products. Less than a quarter of that material becomes buildings, roads, or other enduring items. Fewer than 10% goes back into the economy in the form of recycled goods and second-life products.
There is no planet B. Without action, there will be no resources left. By reusing items and reducing waste now, the circular economy creates a path to a better and more certain future.
So, what happens if you sit back and do nothing? With less resources available, prices will go up, impacting your bottom line. Availability of raw materials will be limited, making it harder for you to run your business.
As ecological damage continues, pressure to take action will mount. Investors will look for more sustainable businesses, customers will demand more action and it will become more difficult to meet increasing ESG requirements.
If you start the transition now, your business will be on the front foot. You’ll save money, be more competitive and improve your standing in the market. Best of all, you’ll be doing the right thing for the planet and its people (us).
Circonomy brings together retailers, designers, craftspeople and resource recovery organisations to give new life to still-useful things. We empower individuals and businesses to reduce, reuse, recycle and repurpose, helping people see the value, potential and beauty in second-life goods.
Talk to Circonomy about how we can support your move to the circular economy so you can reap the rewards for your business.