By Purba Maity
The circular economy has been increasingly gaining popularity around the world, in various sectors. Why it is important for a sustainable and better future.
What is circular economy?
A Circular Economy is a model of production and consumption which involves sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing and recycling existing materials and products for as long as possible. In contrast to the ‘take-make-waste’ linear model, a circular economy is regenerative by design and aims to decouple growth from the consumption of finite resources gradually. In the circular economy, practices like reusing resources and refurbishing old products are the norm. This ensures that we use fewer nonrenewable resources.
In the linear economy, raw natural resources are taken, transformed into products and get disposed of. On the opposite, a Circular Economy model aims to close the gap between the production and the natural ecosystems’ cycles – on which humans ultimately depend.
This means, on one hand, eliminating waste (composting biodegradable waste or reusing, remanufacturing and finally recycling non-biodegradable waste). On the other hand, it also means cutting off the use of chemical substances (a way to help regenerate natural systems) and betting on renewable energy.
How a circular economy can help in economic growth
The circular economy creates a positive impact at three different levels-
- A circular economy enhances economic growth by reducing the economic value of new raw materials and energy resources; gradually, it will impact the profitability of a company.
- A circular economy also promotes local economic growth by relocating some production at the local level, offers new employment opportunities and improves the trade balance
- The circular economy is a source of many benefits to the consumers as well; it enables to shift of the economy from consumption based on use to consumption based on possession. So a consumer can get multiple returns from a single possession.
Barriers to adopting circular economy
Cultural barriers are the biggest hindrance in adopting circularity, particularly a lack of consumer interest and awareness and hesitant company culture, which are considered the main Circular Economy barriers by businesses and policy-makers.
The results identified seven main barriers to the CE: (1) high start-up costs, (2) complex supply chains, (3) challenging business-to-business (B2B) cooperation, (4) lack of information on product design and production, (5) lack of technical skills, (6) quality compromise and (7) disassembly of products
Why we should adopt a circular economy
A circular economy is characterized as “a model of production and consumption that ensures long-term growth.” with the Circular Economy, we may promote resource optimization, recover waste by recycling or giving the product a second life as a new one, and reduce raw material consumption. It has the following benefits-
- Reduces the use of non-renewable resources
Today, more than ever, we continue to consume nonrenewable resources as though we have an endless supply. This practice is not sustainable. A truly circular economy will boast zero waste, meaning nothing gets thrown away. Essentially, it’s a smarter way to use the resources that we have.
- Lowers carbon emissions
A circular economy will help to minimize carbon emissions since its entire model revolves around sustainable management of materials and less exploration of new non-renewal resources.
- Aims for zero waste
A cornerstone of a circular economy is reusing resources and products, leading to a zero-waste model. Zero waste means fewer ocean-bound plastics, less trash in our oceans, and fewer landfills. It also means there’s less need to mine finite resources; we reuse them instead.
- Provides benefits for the consumer
It also promises an increased disposable income since it encourages buying used items, leasing or renting instead of owning, and other more economical practices. Another huge benefit to the consumer is job creation. Many new industry types will need to emerge to achieve a circular economy.
- Opens new opportunities for companies
Existing companies can also enjoy a more secure supply of resources as we reuse the resources that we already have rather than depending upon finite resources. This may decrease the cost of materials allowing companies to run more efficiently. The practice may also improve customer loyalty.
We are far away from the target of achieving ‘net zero emission’ by 2030, circularity is that small step which can accelerate the progress towards our mission. Reusing, recycling, and remanufacturing are simple steps to adopt in our day-to-day life, which will bring circularity to the economy. We should not forget the great saying of Mahatma Gandhi “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed.”
Also Read: India @75: Addressing manufacturing growth challenge
(Purba Maity is the Lead – CSR at Veedol Engine Oils. She wrote on behalf of WICCI WBSBC.)
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