The concept of circular economy has been gaining strength day after day on business websites and in the media in general. This new model of performance by companies in relation to production and consumption is attracting many small, medium and large businessmen and companies that adhere to it, gain credibility in the market.
In addition, it is viewed positively by society in general, which generates more engagement and increased brand loyalty with consumers. But, after all, what is circular economy?
If you have heard about it, but do not understand what it is about, enjoy this text! Well, our article today will bring together the main information on the topic, namely:
- What is the circular economy;
- The difference between the circular economy and the linear economy;
- Circular economy and the sustainability tripod;
- The role of the circular economy and recycling
- Example of companies adhering to the circular economy.
- Tips to act in a more sustainable way.
Just see how interesting the topic is! So, learn all about the circular economy now! Keep up with us and have a good reading!
What is circular economy?
The circular economy can be defined as a new economic model that aims to reduce the extraction of raw materials for the creation of products, as well as the reduction of waste disposal in nature.
This model is a kind of science within the business / industrial world. It is based on the premise that there is no such thing as “garbage”. Thus, all waste can and should be reused.
Thus, product designs, transportation, use and disposal need to be managed in order to generate the least possible impact on nature and the environment.
It’s interesting to think about it under the 3 R ‘s perspective: reduce, reuse and recycle. In other words, this economy model aims to help companies and society in general to rethink the form of consumption and even the production of waste.
Let's take a practical example: when we buy a frozen lasagna, have you noticed how many packages come with the food? After disposing of this “garbage”, where does it go after leaving your house or building?
This is one of the reflections proposed by the circular economy. Is it possible to produce products with less packaging?
How to produce less waste in an increasingly technological and consumerist society? Furthermore, how to grow and improve companies in the midst of so many issues? See some suggestions for improvements and sustainability now!
The difference between the circular economy and the linear economy
Above we talked a little bit about the circular economy proposal. You may have noticed that it appears as an alternative that we currently have, called the linear economy.
THE linear economy it has been widely used and we are already used to it. Since the industrial revolution, consumption has become increasingly widespread and immediate. Unfortunately, the production of garbage followed this trend.
Thus, our consumption occurs linearly, more or less like this:
However, we already know that after disposal a material does not disappear as if by magic.
They are sent to landfills or landfills. To get an idea of how problematic this is, think that there are currently almost 3,000 irregular landfills or landfills in Brazil.
So, that means millions of people living with garbage, vectors and diseases! In order to reduce this problem and others generated by this exaggerated consumption, the circular economy proposes another form of consumption, which can be outlined as follows:
Positive impacts and benefits of the circular economy:
Among the positive impacts of the circular economy, we can mention the main ones:
- Less use of primary natural resources when creating new products;
- Production and transportation of products less harmful to the environment;
- Income generation and improvement of working conditions of people who make a living from recycling;
- Development of public policies that value brands that support this new economic model;
- Awareness of the population about consumption habits + disposal of products;
- Pollution decrease;
- Reduction of discarded materials in landfills and dumps.
Circular economy and the tripod of sustainability
Whenever we talk about the circular economy, another concept that is equally relevant and needs to be more widespread in our country comes to mind. He is the tripod of sustainability.
This term is originally called in English “Triple Bottom Line”And was created by John Elkington, in the 90's. Based on this concept, a sustainable company is one that operates in three dimensions:
- Environmental Protection;
- Support and promotion of economic development, whether local, regional or global;
- And stimulating and guaranteeing social equity.
From this point of view, we realize that the sustainability tripod acts in accordance with the circular economy. In other words: it is necessary to produce and manage companies more consciously and rethink how to dispose of waste.
These ideas, concepts and thoughts are not emerging now. They have been disseminated and studied since the mid-90s. However, they gained more strength and notoriety around 1997 with the signing of the Kyoto Protocol.
The urgency of new sustainable economic models
In the past decade, issues such as the environment and waste management have been of greater concern to society. In the end, climate change, extremely high levels of pollution and the increase in the world population are worrying the authorities and threatening the planet.
Since, studies say that by 2050 there will be more plastics than fish in our oceans. Some scientists already claim that in 100 years there will be no more human life on Earth if we do not rethink our habits. To learn more about this, we recommend the documentary “David Attenborough and Our Planet”, available on Netflix.
So that this does not happen, new models are emerging that aim at more sustainable practices and better use of the planet's natural resources.
Such models need to be encouraged and implemented as soon as possible, after all, the planet has limited resources and they are running out.
The role of the circular economy and recycling
As you can see above, the circular economy proposes that the production of a product, transportation, use and disposal should be done in a causing the least impact to the environment.
This means that a waste (garbage) will not go to the dump to wait for its decomposition (which can take years or even centuries). The idea is that it is collected and reused, thus, the number of discarded objects tends to drop a lot.
Recycling is a complex issue, but it needs to be discussed and encouraged. Many people do not know, but there are millions of UK residents families who live thanks to the collection of recyclable materials.
However, there are few regulated associations that offer good working conditions for these people. As an example, we can cite the Asmare: Association of Collectors of Paper, Cardboard and Reusable Materials from Belo Horizonte.
She works in the training and assistance of collectors in the capital of Minas Gerais. However, it is still one of the few entities that aim at this type of national service. In most of Brazil, people collect recyclable materials and sell them to middlemen.
These, in turn, pay very little for the material collected and sell them to industries. About this, we believe that there is an urgent need to rethink this way of collecting and selling this type of product. As improvements, we suggest some points, such as:
- Enabling safety equipment to waste collectors;
- Fair payment on materials collected by these workers;
- Extinction of people of bad faith (middlemen) who exploit the work of collectors;
- Legalization of the work of all collectors with a view to labor law;
- End of wheelbarrows (or carts) for transporting recyclable materials. For that, there are already projects like this, in Fortaleza.
Example of companies adhering to the circular economy
Below, check out some examples of companies that already use the circular economy in their production:
The footwear brand Grendene launched a Rider collection 100% engaged in the circular economy. The shoes are vegan (with nothing of animal origin).
Furthermore, the products have 82% of their compounds removed from recyclable materials. These materials are taken from the factory where they are produced and also from PET bottles.
This means less waste thrown away, generation of jobs and income and footwear with less environmental impact. A lot of mass, isn't it?
The HP company (Hewlett-Packard) since the 1990s has shown an interest in sustainable production. It is adept at manufacturing products with biodegradable packaging and invests in studies of products that can be reused several times.
HP is seen as one of the world leaders when it comes to studies to implement this economic model.
The giant Apple is also very active within the circular economy. All of its stores have the incentive to correctly dispose of recyclable materials. So, they receive their devices to be recycled.
In addition, thanks to Apple Renew it is possible to deliver old cell phones in stores, to acquire credit when purchasing new devices.
Coca-Cola encourages the use of returnable bottles. It also works in partnership with Verallia (a company that melts the glass used in bottles). This makes it possible to recycle 100% of the waste.
How can I help in the circular economy
If you want to get “on that wave” and help society with simple but effective measures, check out some tips:
- Find out (as you are doing now) about sustainability, recycling, economy and new economic models;
- Buy from companies that have this model of action and ask others about the possibilities for improvement;
- Avoid wasting food and products in general;
- Never buy from companies involved in slave labor;
- Search alternatives to consumption and invest in new ways of buying. As an example we can mention thrift stores, online bazaars and reuse of clothes and shoes;
- Separate the organic waste from inorganic waste (this helps recyclable material collectors a lot).
We already offer a comprehensive guide to Adoption of a sustainable office + 7 tips for implementing this model. We know that an attitude can seem little or even inefficient.
Yet, when thousands or millions of people look for more ecological and sustainable alternatives, the whole planet wins. About this, we can mention vegetarianism and veganism.
These ideological and food trends emerged many years ago and are gaining momentum over the past 10 years.
After some studies that prove the effectiveness of such measures with a view to the environment and animal welfare, millions of people have already adhered to these ways of life.
Can the circular economy change the world?
This is a recurring question, when we think about changes in attitudes and / or paradigms. However, we know that nothing happens overnight.
Therefore, individual change in relation to consumption is necessary. Furthermore, we need to demand from politicians and community leaders a posture more consistent with the current reality of our planet.
And you, do you think the circular economy is a viable idea? If you liked this article, share it with your friends and family on your social networks so that they also learn about this revolutionary idea.