According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation 45% of carbon emissions derived from the ‘stuff’ we use on a daily basis. We need to quickly kerb consumption, innovate the way raw materials and products are circulated and reused, reducing waste whilst facilitating regeneration across environment, community, and biodiversity. Some stark statements below:
- 90% of all products are wasted within 6 months of purchase
- 7 wears out of the average piece of clothing
- $1 trillion dollars of food is wasted worldwide each year
Last week some of the industries key representatives, organisations and individuals attended the CIWM’s Circular Economy Festival 2022. The festival focused on concepts looking at circular design and scalability across industry range to the future and sustainability of circularity. Here are some of the key takeaways:
- We are stronger together
Currently less than 9% of the global economy is circular, to achieve a ‘circular’ economy we to collaborate and create partnerships between industries, organisations, and businesses. Whether this is collaboration between competitors to share technology or information to support circularity, for example, Asda and the Co-op combined forces developing Manufacture 2030 to spread sustainable practices through their global supply chains. Or between different industries where bi-products or ‘waste’ can be utilised, seen in whisky distilleries where spent grain is reused in animal feed. Ask yourself who could your business collaborate with to help minimise waste or share knowledge with?
- Technology holds the key
To implement the circular economy, we need to capitalise on emerging technologies and innovations throughout business. During the festival we heard from Grey Parrot who use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to analyse waste systems helping to increase transparency and automate recycling, “data is key, we can’t optimise or set reduction goals without measurement”. Similarly, the importance of innovative materials and technology utilisation will facilitate circularity, and this was highlighted through MarinaTex, a material derived from waste from a fish processing plant, ending life within the biological cycle returning nutrients to the Earth. We should support these technologies and innovations through investment and facilitating policy.
- Huge economic benefits
Not only will the circular economy benefit the environment through regeneration and reduced extraction there will be huge economic gains. It is estimated the circular economy will bring $4.5 trillion in economic benefits till 2030, while the International Labour Organisation estimate global net increase of jobs between 7 and 8 million by 3020. Research by WRAP, provides us with a UK statistic, finding the potential to reduce emissions associated with UK consumption of products by up to 33 million tonnes CO2eq p.a., boosting UK Gross Value Added by £82 billion and creating 550,000 jobs by 2030 (WRAP, 2021). Businesses will also see several economic benefits from reducing sourcing costs, new and larger profit pools, and new business service demands.
- When thinking about the Economy you can’t forget Ecology
Both ecology and economy are derived from “eco”. The word means house, household, surrounding environment. It could be argued both ecology and economy come hand in hand, which is often forgotten by businesses. Under a circular economy both aspects are respected aspiring for economic growth while ensuring maximum ecological health and regeneration.
- Renewable Energy and Circular Economy are highly interlinked
To tackle climate change we require a two-pronged approach involving both renewable energy sources and efficiency drives combined with the circular economy. Both are highly interlinked and almost equally as important in achieving Net Zero targets.
- Clear purpose for your organisation
Following on from above, implementing and achieving circularity should be at the heart of your business’s road map. An important first step towards circularity should be product redesign or design review, which is absolutely key setting up the whole process favouring circularity. For example, 80% of the environmental costs are pre-determined during the product conception and design stage, therefore proactive design should be the priority of your business. Have you considered your products or services with regards to the circular economy, are they designed to promote circularity?
Comply Direct can offer bespoke support to review products or packaging with the circular economy in mind, considering design, reuse, material circularity and end of life optimisation. If you are interested, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org.