How the Circular Economy might be the trump card for sustainability.
It’s no secret that the Earth is facing a massive crisis when it comes to sustainability. Politicians like Presidential candidate Donald Trump and Australian Senator Malcolm Roberts have raised confidence in skeptics that believe there isn’t any urgent action needed to help the environment.
In an interview with Bill O’Reilly, Donald Trump has stated publicly that he doesn’t believe in climate change, however he does believe in promoting sustainable energy if it is economically viable. In the clip below, he mentioned how investing in solar energy can be a good idea. The problem is the economic model doesn’t make it viable for property-owners, businesses or government organisations to invest in solar panels because the return on investment does not occur for 36 years and the panels erode in 10 years.
There is a massive concern that individuals like Donald Trump and Senator Malcolm Roberts will influence the world’s stakeholders to prevent taking real action to improve the world’s progression towards sustainable habits and processes.
There’s skepticism and conspiracy theories that suggest that the world’s power brokers will trade economic gain in exchange for long-term sustainable initiatives. And if this is the case, then the only way to drive sustainability to the forefront is by promoting a Circular Economy that will provide better economic benefits than the systems that are in place today.
A Circular Economy is a winning model for everybody.
David Pearce’s Blueprint for a Green Economy was the first publication that provided a positive economic model for sustainability. Improving the way people and organisations produce, consume, trade and prioritise the need to care for the environment, economies will reap the financial and health benefits.
In theory, a circular economy can make waste obsolete by closing the loop. In order to make it work, people need to commit to sourcing better raw materials, consuming eco-friendly products and manage natural resources such as water, land and fossil fuels in a way that won’t negatively impact the environment. It is a bold challenge that can work for everyone.
The Circular Economy in action.
In the tiny Japanese town of Kamikatsu, they have developed a circular economy that recycles up to 80% of their waste. Although the town only has 1700 residents, they have proved that creating a circular economy can work and the benefits are being felt in terms of the health and financial well being.
The town had its challenges initially with getting its residents on board with the program. Their recycling practices see them sort their trash into 34 categories, which will be disposed at their local recycling centre.
Another initiative that has performed well was the setup of a donation centre where people can take recycled items for free. More can be seen in the video below.
They achieve this by separating their trash into 34 categories.
People in the community are told how it will benefit them in terms of costs and financial impact.
Businesses are starting to take action.
There are several businesses such as the United Kingdom’s Marks & Spencer who have committed to achieving sustainability goals by closing the gap by 2050. Renault has made progress in the automotive industry by making 90% of their vehicles being recyclable and 30% of their cars made from recycled parts.
Australian based ink cartridge supplier Cartridges Direct has implemented a recycling scheme that will allow businesses to be part of the circular economy. Managing Director Simon Williams realized that the supply, consumption and disposal of printing cartridges was causing a negative impact on the environment.
Many businesses that purchase printers are told that they must purchase ink cartridges from their existing suppliers otherwise there is a risk that their printer will be damaged and it won’t be covered by any warranties or even worse, it won’t be repaired by the manufacturer. This means businesses maintain the habit of purchasing and disposing ink cartridges. What is worse is that many of those suppliers don’t offer recycling schemes so most of the cartridges that are sold end up in landfill after they are disposed.
Cartridges Direct is on a mission to get more businesses involved in a circular economy by getting businesses to switch their printing habits by using refills rather than ink cartridges. Furthermore, businesses that use the ink cartridge recycling program can participate easily by sending the used cartridges back to Cartridges Direct.
Will the world respond to the challenge?
People remain optimistic that the world’s citizens will respond to the sustainability challenges and that a Circular Economic model can be implemented. The best way people can make a difference is by looking at improvements that they can make in the home, workplace and microeconomy in the hope that the trend will motivate influential businesses and government organisations to make a change.