What is the circular economy?
The circular economy is a model based on moving away from a consumer-focused economy, in which resources are extracted and turned into single- or limited-use products, which are then simply discarded as waste. The circular economy instead focuses on making products more durable, reusable, repairable, and recyclable.
Our current manufacturing systems still generate a huge amount of waste. The World Resources Institute estimates that over 100 billion tons of resources flow into the economy every year and 60% of this ends up as waste or is converted into carbon emissions.
In a circular economy, waste and pollution will be reduced through the design of products. It’s believed that at least 80% of environmental impacts are determined during the design phase. With that in mind, another way to view this is that waste is a design flaw rather than an unwanted by product.
More horrifying is the fact that we waste approximately a third of all food produced, most of which is transported vast distances to consumers by land, sea or air transport, and is refrigerated and wrapped in non-recyclable plastic packaging to keep it fresh.
However, a circular economy cannot be created overnight. Many stakeholder groups and organisations need to work together to make it happen. We have found opportunities to contribute to the circular economy in many sectors, such as re-grinding plastics to go back into the production process.