By Indiana Lee
Charging ahead with no thought to the future is simply no longer an option, especially where energy is concerned. It is estimated that there are 46.2 years of oil reserves remaining across the globe, a statistic that demonstrates the need for us to address the issue. Hence the rise in popularity of the circular economy.
The concept of circular economies is one that is finding an increasing number of applications in the modern world. In recent years, it has become positively viewed by customers in general. In the past, investment in circular economy staples like alternative energy may have been viewed skeptically by those purely interested in the bottom line. However, circular principles now play a crucial role to the long-term success of any business, affecting everything from its marketing to the nitty-gritty details of its daily operations.
Creating Long-Term Solutions
The idea of a circular economic model isn’t just a passing trend; it’s a necessary development for the future of humanity. As with so many other crucial developments in modern society, its propagation is being spearheaded by the private sector.
The traditional business model of manufacturing, using, and disposing of products has long been seen as unsustainable. The issue has been serious enough to garner the attention of intergovernmental organizations, such as the United Nations, which was already setting goals for “sustainable consumption and production patterns” as far back as 2015.
There are numerous ways to tailor an enterprise’s operations toward a more sustainable circular economy model. For example, conscientious businesses should take time to implement eco-friendly strategies when building new structures or creating new products.
The concept of a “green building”, for example, includes elements like water harvesting, using natural and recycled materials, and taking care to design systems that avoid creating excess waste. New design approaches to green buildings are being introduced with each passing year, and many are seeing widespread adoption.
Even in efforts to manage unavoidable waste, progress is being made. In an interview, Jarno Stet, the Waste Service Manager from the City of Westminster, addressed the issue, stating that, “We need to make the most of the resources we have however we also have to be realistic. There will always be significant volumes of waste left which can’t be recycled.” The statement was made in the context of energy from waste, a concept of using genuine waste to create energy, which Stet added, “compliments the Circular Economy Package beautifully.”
While there should always be room for improvement, there has actually already been a significantly positive response regarding the subject of eco-friendly office buildings. As of mid-2018, 30 of the United States’ largest cities had reached record levels of green-certified office space.
Building the Circular Economic Model Blueprint
The intense interest coming from both governments and businesses alike promises a future focus on circular economic models across the board. From clothes to computers, batteries to beer, here are several examples of companies that have already begun to make efforts towards minimizing and repurposing waste:
The brewers at Toast Ale help to prevent food waste by specifically looking for local bakeries to work with. Once they’ve found a local baker, they use their excess bread supply to use in brewing their own line of products. Surplus bread is an extremely common source of food waste, and the company is already boasting to have repurposed hundreds of thousands of slices of unwanted bread into their drinks.
Americans dispose of three billion batteries a year. So it’s natural that a battery company would want to do its part in creating alternative energy that doesn’t end up in a landfill. With that said, battery manufacturer Energizer’s effort to recycle at least a fraction of its batteries makes a lot of sense. However, the process is extremely difficult and has, thus far, only allowed the company to use recycled materials for four percent of the content of its newer, eco-friendly batteries. While this doesn’t sound impressive, the logistical complications make it a huge breakthrough with a promising future.
The computer behemoth, Dell, reported in March that they had made some headway in their battle to implement a greener circular economic model. The company has had a 2020 Legacy of Good Plan in place for some time now, which outlines their ambitions to use “technology and expertise to work where they can do the most good for people and the planet”, and they announced that they had reached their goal of recovering two billion pounds of e-waste.
Timberland has come up with a clever way to turn one product into another; the company, working with tire manufacturer Omni United, has created a line of Timberland Tires that, once used, are recycled and repurposed into the outsoles of the company’s famous shoewear.
There is no doubt that businesses are responding to the growing global acknowledgment that a crisis of resources is inevitable if nothing is proactively done to avoid it. The growing popularity of circular economic models will no doubt continue to increase interest in things like waste management, green buildings, and all forms of alternative energy as time goes on. We’ll be excitedly watching, and reporting.
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Feature image via Pexels.