You’ve probably seen the term “circular economy” being dropped all over the news lately and you might find yourself wondering what exactly this means. Have you heard of the 3R’s of sustainability: reduce-reuse-recycle? Well, a “circular economy” is essentially an economy that’s based on these surrounding practices. There are additional, more specific factors which we will explore further later on in this post. A circular economy is designed to eliminate waste, in this economic model everything that’s produced is manufactured adhering to these practices.
The World Economic Forum describes a circular economy as “an industrial system that is restorative or regenerative by intention and design. It replaces the end-of-life concept with restoration, shifts towards the use of renewable energy, eliminates the use of toxic chemicals, which impair reuse and return to the biosphere, and aims for the elimination of waste through the superior design of materials, products, systems, and business models.” The Forum identified 3 principles of a circular economy:
- Waste doesn’t exist, so products are designed and optimized for being disassembled and reused
- Circularity draws a fine line between consumable and durable components of a product, and in a circular economy, most consumables are largely of biological ingredients or that are at least non-toxic (and perhaps even beneficial), and can safely be returned to the earth. On the other hand, durables (like computers) which are made of technical nutrients unsuitable for the biosphere, (i.e. metals and most plastics) are designed from the start for reuse, and products subject to rapid technological advance are designed for upgrade
- The energy required to fuel this cycle should be renewable
The following graphic illustrates the World Economic Forum’s principles of a circular economy and how they are applied in practice:
Today, most production and consumption follow the linear “take-make-dispose” model; a far less sustainable alternative to the circular “reduce-reuse-recycle” model. The potential benefits of shifting to a circular economy are significant. In addition to the apparent reasons of waste and emissions reductions, the advantages of transitioning to a circular economy include (but are certainly not limited to):
- Less pollution entering earth’s life systems
- Stimulate economic growth through the creation of new green businesses, industries, and jobs from waste
- Reduced dependence on importation of raw materials
- Avoidance of environmental damage caused by resource extraction
Although economical systems are administered by governments and powered by industry, we (as consumers) drive them. So essentially, we hold the key to change. Our everyday habits are the ultimate determinants of if and when we are able to fully transition to a circular economy.
With the evident consequences of global warming becoming more and more apparent each day, it’s clear that our consumption-based economy can’t deliver the sustainable future we would like for our children. Something needs to change.
Luckily, there are many simple things you can start doing at home to promote a circular economy. We’ve listed these items below.
- Use recycling bins and programs available to you in your area. The more we use them, the more likely the government will expand and enhance their programs
- When you recycle, repair, and/or reuse your existing items, there is less demand for new items. If enough of us do this, it will help transition to an economy that isn’t so focused on mass production of single-use items
3. Grow Your Own Food
- As you’ve likely noticed, most produce is transported, packaged, and sold in plastic. Growing your own fruits and veggies is a great way that you can help remove the waste involved in these processes
- If you aren’t able to grow your own food, always be sure to bring a reusable shopping bag and skip the packaging where you can
4. Shop Sustainably
- Minimizing how much you buy is the single best thing you can do, but we understand that it’s not always the answer. When buying something new, avoid purchasing single-use items and invest in products that will have a much longer life cycle. Also, ensure that you opt for products made out of recycled and/or recyclable materials
A circular economy is closer to reality than we think. By following these tips, you can help us get there. At Kiwi Energy, we prioritize helping customers minimize their energy consumption, reduce waste, and lessen their environmental impact full stop. If you’re interested in finding other ways that you can help work towards a circular economy and overall more sustainable future, check out our Products page to learn about our eco-conscious energy and natural gas solutions.