The Circular Economy- Beyond Sustainability
Updated: Mar 29
“The linear economy is the problem; a circular economy is the solution.” (Rathanakumar, 2020)
The Dangers of in a Linear Economy:
The Linear Economy, the traditional route adopted my most businesses and organizations has been the common process with dealing with products at the end of its life. A linear economy follows the ‘take-make-dispose’ process. Where raw materials are extracted to create goods, which then by the ends of its use is disposed into overfilled landfills, where it can sit up for centuries without being touched. This never-ending vicious cycle has caused immense damage to the planet, some damage that is already irreversible. We must act now, before it is too late.
The solution? Let’s consciously move towards achieving a Circular Economy.
Circular Economy Defined:
To explain the phenomenon of the circular economy lets start of by defining what an economy is. An economy is the wealth or resources of a country in relation to the production and consumptions of goods and services. A circular economy is an economic system that aims to eliminate waste through the continuous usage of these said resources. In fact, the core principle of a circular economy is based on the idea there is no such thing as waste (YouMatter, 2021).
Picture a circle. A circle is round and has no ends, it’s just a continuous loop. Apply this exact concept through the lenses of resource management. A continuous loop, using the same resources, instead of the need of extracting new raw material to create products. This closed-loop system is designed to keep resources and materials in the system for as long as possible achieving a no waste achieving sustainability.
Is the circular economy process sustainable?
Before we answer the question, let’s begin with defining sustainability as it’s a definition that seem to be subjective to most. At Rescued Glass, we believe that sustainability focuses on “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs (Investopia, 2021).”
In short, sustainability can simply be put as constantly existing.
Now to answer the question: Yes, the circular economy model is sustainable.
Its key philosophy is to produce no waste. The design process heavily emphasizes on the products ‘end of life’ component to ensure that these products have the potential to be upcycled* or recycled*, i.e. to keep existing without the need of extracting new raw. Firms and businesses need to understand that the linear economy model is no longer sustainable and has caused far too much damage. There is no longer an excuse for companies and manufactures to ignore what happens to their product at the end of its life. Companies need to take accountability for their actions and need to start implementing a solution for when their products reach it obsolesce.
*Upcycling/ Upcycled defined:
Upcycling can be defined as the process of transforming unwanted and undesirable products into innovative products perceived to be of greater value and eminence.
Recycling breaks products down into raw components to make something new from them.
The 3 Principles of a Circular Economy
1. A No Waste System: One of the core principles is to eliminate waste. Thus, when products reach its obsolescence, it should be designed in a way that can be repurposed. Therefore, businesses and manufactures need to change their mindset and view waste as a design flaw. In this way we can ensure the elimination of waste and pollution being even created in the first place.
2. Keep Products in Use: We live in an eco-system where our resources are scarce and finite. Thus, we must construct an economy where we cannot but more importantly should not keep wasting resources. Manufactures and businesses need to keep in mind that products need to be designed with components that can be ‘reused, repaired and remanufactured’ (Taylor, 2020).
3. Regenirating Natural Systems: The circular economy holistic philosophy is not to do less harm to the environment but aim to do good for the environment. According to Taylor (2020), in nature there is ‘no concept of waste’ as everything is cyclical. This is because, all the natural cycles like nitrogen, water, carbon ‘work in closed loops with little to no loss of resources through their cycle’ (Taylor, 2020). Therefore, a circular economy model intends to mimic these natural cycles in order to deliberately improve the environment.
Benefits of adopting a Circular Economy
- Less waste leads to less pollution entering the earth’s atmosphere.
- The need not to depend on importation and extraction of raw materials.
- The creation of business that are environmentally cautious and the creation of new jobs.
- Help fight climate change and help revert the damage done to the planet.
At Rescued Glass, we believe in the importance of co-existing sustainably. Through upcycling, we are doing our part in helping the planet. We only have one Earth, lets take care of it.