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Why do we need a Circular Economy
Our planet’s natural resources are declining due to an unsustainable economic growth, fast urbanization, rapid global population growth, and mass production. Every year, 100 billion tonnes of materials enter the global market, from which only 8.6% are recycled. From 200 years back until now, the dominant economic model was the take-make – waste or so called a linear economy model. The traditional economy model resulted in serious problems such as global warming. If human activities continue, global warming will rise to 3-degree by the end of this century. Waste and pollution have increased worldwide, which causes serious environmental problems. Further, one million of the eight million species on the planet are at risk, and the oceans and forests are still being polluted and destroyed.
Therefore, it is time to change, re-thing, re-manage, reverse the damages that happened to mother earth by human actions. Circular economy as a young concept holds the promise for a systematic transformation of our society in the closed-loop circular setup, and it keeps the products and materials in use as long as possible via recycle, reduce, reuse, and repair principles.
The circular economy is a vast and holistic idea that focuses on zero waste generation. C.E. can lead to increase the resource efficiency that generate environmental gains through a decline in raw material extraction and pollution generation.
Today, C.E. becomes the hot topic for researchers, academia, think tanks, and policymakers. The powerful effects of the covid-19 pandemic that shut the whole world at once in March 2020, gave the concept even more popularity among the professionals, thus making the application of its principles an urgent matter to tackle.
Today CE lies at the center of European policies. In 2015, the European Union adopted the Circular Economy Strategy and Action Plan to switch the European Economy to a more sustainable economy. Followed, in December 2019, the European Commission proposed the European Green Deal (EGD). The main objective of this commitment is a new growth strategy that aims to transform the E.U. into:
- fair and prosperous society,
- with a modern, resource efficiency and
- competitive economy, decoupled from resource use,
- set to become carbon neutral by 2050.
An estimate shows that applying circular economy principles across Europe, – such as preventing waste generation, reuse, and product eco-design – can amount to 600 billion euros saved by the companies; at the same time, it reduces greenhouse gas emissions. It is also estimated that source productivity is expected to increase by 30% until 2030, causing a rise in the E.U. GDP by 0.5%. Moreover, a circular economy could create 700.000 new jobs in the European market.
Further, a circular economy aims to decouple economic growth from resource consumption and ecological impact with economic and financial benefits for all stakeholders. Therefore, the circular economy is not reduced to an economic model; instead, it is a paradigm shift that is part of our sustainable development.
- Lahane, S., Prajapati, H. and Kant, R. (2021), “Emergence of circular economy research: a systematic literature review,” Management of Environmental Quality, Vol. 32 No. 3, pp. 575-595. https://doi.org/10.1108/MEQ-05-2020-0087
- European Commission (2019). The European Green Deal. available at: https:// ec.europa.eu/info/strategy/priorities-2019–2024/european-green-deal_en [accessed 18/ September/2020].
- Diemer, Arnaud & Dierickx, Florian. (2020). Circular Economy, A New Paradigm For Europe? Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/340793864_Circular_Economy_A_new_Paradigm_For_Europe
- European Commission (2020). New Circular Economy Action Plan. Brussels, COM (2020) – 98 final. 11.3.2020
- PACE (2021). THE CIRCULARITY GAP REPORT 2021. available at: circularity-gap.world