Circular economy offers both entrepreneurs and established businesses numerous advantages. It breaks the link between economic development and natural resource destruction, helping reduce wastefulness while simultaneously improving our environment.
Sustainable practices aim to prevent greenhouse gas emissions and other forms of pollution by designing products to be reused, remanufactured and recycled in order to keep materials circulating within society.
1. Use Less Raw Materials
The traditional linear model of product creation, consumption and disposal puts great strain on finite natural resources – leading to waste, pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Circular economy offers an alternative economic model which seeks to extract maximum value from materials while keeping them in circulation for as long as possible.
These business models that promote circularity include product-as-a-service, sharing platforms and product life extension strategies. These models help optimize resource utilization while decreasing waste while creating value for both businesses and customers alike.
Recycling efficiently also reduces the need for scarce raw materials that are difficult and costly to mine, such as rare earth minerals/metals (i.e. europium, gadolinium and neodymium). This in turn decreases environmental impacts from mining operations while saving natural resources.
2. Reduce Waste
Businesses can reduce waste by making the best use of existing resources – whether that be sharing, leasing, repairing, refurbishing or recycling products and materials.
Circular economy initiatives promote renewable energy use and help lower greenhouse gas emissions, helping countries address economic, climate and biodiversity challenges such as poverty and deforestation.
Living beyond our means can be risky, both personally and for our planet. We must shift towards more sustainable consumption levels by shifting away from linear economic models towards circular models of economy.
Recycling can help businesses reduce the need for new inputs such as raw materials and energy while simultaneously cutting waste disposal costs.
Embarking on a circular economy can put economic growth on a more sustainable track. To do this, it prioritises renewable resources as material inputs while eliminating waste and pollution, and prioritises reuse, repair and remanufacture for continued product lifecycle use while replenishing natural systems.
Individuals can reap great advantages from adopting a circular economy. These benefits may include increased disposable income, decreased environmental impacts and access to health care and living wages. Furthermore, its implementation can create green jobs – from recycling plants and businesses that use end-of-life aircraft materials in new products to those that repair and repurpose them themselves.
Manufacturing companies’ choices of materials, production processes, and product designs can have a dramatic effect on their environmental footprint. By opting for biodegradable packaging made from mycelium – a plant root structure which degrades naturally – or designing their products to be easily repairable and upgradeable – such as Fairphone phones – they can promote more eco-friendly practices.
Food production can also be optimized to minimize waste by selecting ingredients that compost readily with their food products, which allows more efficient land usage, reduced chemical fertiliser usage and enhanced soil biodiversity. Businesses that make sustainability a cornerstone of their business strategy will enjoy enhanced customer loyalty and brand trust while saving costs through product life extension, material reduction and secondary market opportunities.
People have always found clever ways to reuse materials. Repurposing resources helps reduce waste while creating value while cutting raw material costs for businesses.
As opposed to our current linear “take-make-consume-throw away” model, a circular economy seeks to keep products and materials circulating as long as possible while supporting sustainable business practices by using less virgin materials, cutting carbon emissions and creating green jobs.
There are some barriers to creating a circular economy, including limited technical skills among SME workforces and difficulties associated with recycling (especially when mixed materials are combined together). But transitioning towards circular economy can be done stepwise.