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Embrace the New Circular Economy

By Larraine Roulston:

It’s time to Re-Think our economic progress by exploring the many opportunities of the emerging circular economy. This movement is concerned with encouraging societies to become low-carbon emitters and to strive to develop a sustainable industrial system.

Our present system has evolved towards a linear economy — one that manufactures products with the intent of early disposal. Growing populations combined with single-use items, breakable appliances, continuous up-graded technical devices, and frivolous gadgets have created a pivotal point when we can no longer accept this attitude.

The circular economy is formed to eliminate unnecessary waste, reduce pollution and regenerate natural systems. It focuses on products which can be cycled bydisassemblyand reuse.This platform of recovery by repairing and refurbishing encompasses the movement “The Right to Repair.” In addition, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its 3-year strategic partnership with Ireland’s Rediscovery Centre. Take this opportunity to view the circular economy system diagram.

 The concept is not new: wartime Britain and other countries engaged in a circular economy, as they reused existing valuable resources at a time when new materials were scarce. Today, the development of such an economy encourages circular thinking by producing “eco-design” materials that reduce pollution and our burden of waste. 

 Prior to the EU’s launching its circular economy package in 2018, several multinational companies had already embraced the idea. Nike and Apple are both looking to gather 100% of their materials from recycled sources.  Siemens looks towards 100% recovery from its manufacturing plants as well as aiming for zero waste. Ikea has set a target to be fully circular by 2030 by designing and manufacturing furniture that can be repurposed, phasing out virgin oil-based plastics, and ensuring that its packaging is derived from renewable and recycled sources. 

 Agoodbeginning for communities to promote reuseis to set up a materials exchange program. In Ohio, the EPA recently launched its online platform Ohio Materials Marketplace, which illustrates how to facilitate exchanges between businesses and organizations. Whether it be scrap metal, wood pallets or food trimmings suitable for animal feed, one company’s waste becomes another’s resource.

 In Charlotte, North Carolina, a circular economy is on the rise. This enterprising city has launched Circular Charlotte, an economic model that works to eliminate waste and boost its economic development. The Circular Charlotte reportestimates that it could capture as much as $111 million in scrap value by recovering and selling various recyclable materials rather than simply discarding them. The program also has the potential to generate approximately 2,000 new jobs. Circular Charlotte’s vision was inspired by touring cities in the Netherlands in order to study circular economy concepts that specifically involved energy and waste management. 

 Investigating the new circular economy’s opportunities and putting them into practice will require overcoming existing barriers. Its success will require coordination from government, corporations, small business as well as citizens.

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 Larraine writes children’s adventure stories on composting and pollinating. To view, visit,www.castlecompost.com

About Larraine Roulston

A mother of 4 with 6 wonderful grandchildren, Larraine has been active in the environmental movement since the early l970s. When the first blue boxes for recycling were launched in her region, she began writing a local weekly newspaper column to promote the 3Rs. Since that time, she has been a freelance writer for several publications, including BioCycle magazine. As a composting advocate, Larraine authors children's adventure stories that combine composting facts with literature. Currently she is working on the 6th book of her Pee Wee at Castle Compost series, which can be viewed at www.castlecompost.com. As well, Larraine and her husband Pete have built a straw bale home and live in Ontario.

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