According to Wikipedia, a circular economy is “a model of production and consumption, which involves sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing and recycling existing materials and products as long as possible.”
This means items that we use in our day-to-day life would no longer be owned by us but rather, leased or borrowed when needed, and then returned for other consumers to enjoy.
Picture this, you have the latest smartphone, it’s only a year old before the next model becomes available. Spending a few thousand dollars on a new phone might not be on the cards for you at the time, so you aren’t able to upgrade your phone until much later, when the new model is becoming the old model. The rapid rise of updated technological advances has made us all eager to always have the latest and greatest devices, and with a circular economy, this becomes a possibility. Rather than having to hand over thousands of dollars for that latest phone, you could lease the latest model and easily upgrade at any time. This process would continue, you would always have access to the latest model devices and save a bunch of money along the way.
We know it sounds a bit futuristic, but a circular economy could be closer than we think – Europe has already implemented changes and action plans to create a circular economy that will benefit the entire continent.
According to a recent circular economy action plan released by the European Commission, “The EU’s transition to a circular economy will reduce pressure on natural resources and will create sustainable growth and jobs. It is also a prerequisite to achieve the EU’s 2050 climate neutrality target and to halt biodiversity loss.”
So what are the benefits of a circular economy? Here are 5 ways a circular economy could benefit your life.
1. Less Waste
It’s no secret that our planet is suffering with the amount of waste we as a population produce. Everything from plastics to electronics will eventually end up in landfill, and if nothing is done to try and reduce the waste produced by humans, it’s only going to get worse and the earth, and us, will continue to suffer. According to the World Resources Institute, more than 100 billion tons of resources enter the economy every year, with only 8.6% being recycled and used again.
A circular economy would significantly decrease the amount of waste we humans produce, for the simple fact that we would be consuming less and recycling and reusing more.
2. Decrease GHG Emissions
Around 45% of global greenhouse gas emissions come from manufacturing, product use, and food production. Those numbers could be increased if the linear economy is still implemented; however, it can be overcome through the circular economy. Circular economy can decrease greenhouse gas emissions because the products will continue to be recycled and reused so that the use of virgin resources and raw materials can be reduced which also give positive impacts to the environment.
3. Protect Human and Other Living Things Health
Production waste and pollution have negative impacts on humans, animals, and plants. Through circular economy, human and other living things’ health can be protected due to reduction in the process and also the production results.
4. You’ll save money
One of the greatest benefits of a circular economy is only paying for what you need, when you need it. Imagine we’re living in a fully sustainable world where the circular economy is commonplace, there’s no more buying expensive electronics, household items, and maybe even cars. You’d simply lease what you need, when you need it, and then return the item to be used by someone else or for recycling, and so the cycle continues.
5. Your business could benefit and more jobs could become available
Companies like ours realize the benefits of the circular economy and the PaaS model (products as a service) and we pride ourselves on being not only great for the planet, but great for our consumers too.
In order for a circular economy to be achievable, companies around the world would need to rethink their practices and either upskill their current workers or employ additional workers to handle recycling and refurbishing used items. This could mean a boost in job opportunities around the world.
As society moves forward in being more eco-friendly, so do our needs to align with businesses who support our desire to do better for the planet. Going green, becoming eco-friendly or planet friendly, working within the circular economy and becoming more sustainable are all massive bonuses for businesses who want to increase customer loyalty.
The World Resources Institute suggests “the circular economy offers a $4.5 trillion economic opportunity by reducing waste, stimulating innovation and creating employment. New business models focused on reuse, repair, remanufacturing and sharing models offer significant innovation opportunities.”
We all need to play our part in ensuring we are doing our best to maintain a lifestyle that is sustainable and doesn’t negatively impact the planet, and supporting businesses within the circular economy is one simple way to begin.