Science & Technology

Five Opportunities for Circular Economy

Every year, more than 100 billion tonnes of resources flow into the economy, from metals, minerals and fossil fuels to organic matter in plants and animals.However 8.6% It will be recycled and used again.To use resources Triple (Automatic PDF download) Since 1970, if the business continues as usual, it could double again by 2050.Will need 1.5 ground Sustainably supports the use of current resources.

This rampant consumption has devastating effects on humans, wildlife, and the planet. The transition from a linear, single-use and throw-away model to a circular economy is more urgent than ever. That is, waste and pollution are designed and products and materials continue to be used longer and more naturally. The system can be played.

However, the circular economy is not just about solving environmental problems. Evidence shows that the circular economy can have significant opportunities and positive impacts on the industry, sector, and overall life.

More and more businesses, governments and civil society organizations are coming together Platform for accelerating the circular economy (PACE).. More than 200 experts from 100 organizations helped develop Circular Economic Behavior AgendaA series of publications that analyze and encourage action across five key sectors: plastics, textiles, electronics, food and capital equipment (machinery and large tools such as medical scanners, agricultural machinery, manufacturing infrastructure). .. The action agenda presents five opportunities related to the transition to a circular economy.

1. Make more effective use of limited resources

The concept of a circular economy is to make better use of natural resources such as forests, soil, water, air, metals and minerals.

Take the textile industry. Every year, large amounts of fossil fuels are used to make garments from synthetic fibers.Fiber production (including cotton cultivation) uses most 100 billion cubic meters Annual water intake is about 4 percent of the world’s freshwater intake. At the same time, people throw away an estimated $ 460 billion worth of still-wearable clothing each year.

Creating a circular economy of textiles means shifting to recycled and recyclable materials to reduce the amount of land, water and fossil fuels used to produce new garments. This means changing consumption patterns, reducing new purchases and continuing to use clothing longer, for example by developing second-hand and rental markets and changing the culture of fast fashion. According to a survey 100 used clothes It can replace the production of 85 new garments. And finally, that means ensuring that at the end of their life the garments are collected and recycled or reused for new garments.

2. Reduce emissions

Approximately 45% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions come from the use and manufacture of products and food production. A circular economic strategy that reduces resource use can reduce global greenhouse gas emissions as follows: 39 percent (22.8 billion tonnes) And plays an important role in avoiding the dangerous effects of climate change.

For example, the move to recycled materials reduces the need to produce unused plastics and synthetic fibers, significantly reducing fossil fuel use and associated emissions. Changing consumption patterns is also important. For example, if the average number of times garments are worn doubles, greenhouse gas emissions from the textile industry will be 44% lower.

The world produces about 300 million tonnes of plastic waste each year, which is about the weight of the entire population.

Building a food circulation economy by reducing losses and waste is especially important for reducing emissions.If food loss and waste is a country, it is Third largest emitter After the United States and China.

3. Protect human health and biodiversity

Every year 9 million people died It is caused by pollution of the air, water and soil.This pollution too Threaten biodiversity..

Working towards a circular economy protects human health and biodiversity in a variety of ways, including more effective use of natural resources (protecting water and land) and mitigating climate crises. Useful for. One of the most obvious and direct consequences of the transition to a circular economy is the way products are treated when they reach the end of their lifespan.

The world produces around 300 million tons Each year, the amount of plastic waste is roughly equivalent to the weight of the entire population.This is on 54 million tons of electronic waste (e-waste), of which 17.4% It is collected and recycled. Mismanagement of this waste, such as leaking it into the natural environment or disposing of it through open burning, landfills, or substandard recycling, can be detrimental to human health and biodiversity.

By designing products that will be used for a long period of time, you can reduce the amount of waste generated. Protect workers and the environment from dangerous goods by creating an appropriate collection and processing system. For example, existing solutions such as replacing other plastic materials, designing plastics for ease of recycling, and expanding collection and recycling can reduce the influx of plastic waste into the ocean. I will. 80 percent Twenty years later — changes that are very beneficial to human health and biodiversity.

4. Boost the economy

According to a survey, the circular economy $ 4.5 trillion financial opportunity By reducing waste, stimulating innovation and creating jobs.New business model focused on Reuse, repair, Remanufacturing and sharing models offers significant innovation opportunities.

For example, the plastic circulation economy offers considerable economic benefits. Reducing plastic waste in the ocean benefits industries such as fisheries and tourism, as plastic pollution leads to: $ 13 billion Annual cost and financial loss. Reducing pollution and toxic emissions from open burning of plastic waste will reduce medical costs, but reducing the use of fossil fuels for plastic production will help reduce climate change and associated costs. I will.

Many of these economic benefits and opportunities are long-term and indirect and require large investments. A long-term perspective is as important as a short-term incentive to drive change.This can include policies that create more immediate financial incentives for companies to develop. Innovative new business model It enables an efficient flow of recycled and recycled materials throughout the global value chain.

5. Create more and better work

The transition to a circular economy Employment of 6 million people by 2030.. To take full advantage of this opportunity, we need a clear focus on social and environmental justice.

In a more linear business, you can lose your job. However, new jobs are created in areas such as recycling, services such as repairs and rentals, or new companies created for innovative use of secondary materials. These new jobs are not considered direct replacements as they are located in different locations and may require different skills. For example, we need to consider millions of garment workers (mainly women) whose employment depends on the continuation of the fast fashion industry.Invest in Just migrate Through social dialogue, social protection and re-skilling programs are key.

Net increase in work is important, but another added value of circulation is the opportunity to provide informal workers with formal work and improved working conditions. Approximately 15 million people around the world work as “west pickers”, collecting reusable or recyclable materials from garbage. Bringing these informal wastepickers to a formal job of collecting or recycling is a major opportunity to provide safer and safer employment.

Maximize the impact of the circular economy

Of course, there are trade-offs that must always be considered and managed when tackling large-scale systematic changes. For example, moving to natural recyclable fibers such as bio-based plastics and cotton uses less fossil fuels than traditional plastics and synthetics, but with the land to grow such materials. The demand for water may increase. The transition to natural materials is an important part of the solution, but only if those materials are produced in a sustainable manner and consumption habits are changing.

A long-term perspective is as important as a short-term incentive to drive change.

It is also important to recognize the interrelated nature of the world economy. Many minerals and metals used in electronics are by-products of the mining of aluminum, copper, lead and zinc and are used in a variety of industries. Circulating only in the electronics industry is not very effective in reducing reliance on these resources. Multiple industries need to shift to create systematic change.

Finally, it is important to keep social well-being and fairness a top priority. For example, the transition to a circular economy is a later stage in the value chain, from production and manufacturing of investment and employment (which tends to occur in low-income countries) to repair, resale, sorting and recycling (often concentrated). In wealthy countries that may shift to).Economic benefits Fair distribution To maximize opportunities for a circular economy.

Everyone’s role

The five areas of influence above represent some of the social, environmental and economic benefits of a circular economy, but these benefits require ambitious action. Governments, businesses, civil society, financial institutions, research institutes—everyone has a role to play. The new Circular Economic Behavior Agenda is a good place to start.

Five Opportunities for Circular Economy Five Opportunities for Circular Economy

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