Circular Economy - What is it?
What is the Circular Economy and how to be part of the movement?
The Circular Economy is an economic model based on reduction, reuse and recycling. Its objective is to reduce waste to a minimum, prolonging the shelf life of the products as much as possible. When this life cycle comes to an end, all the elements that would otherwise be wasted are reused to manufacture new products, reducing thus the extraction of raw materials from the environment and the production of toxic substances for the planet.
This concept arose from the need to counter the trend of population growth and the consequent pressure on natural resources, which are scarce. The circular economy opposes to the current production system: the linear economy, based on the process of extraction -> production -> use -> disposal. In this economically unsustainable model, products are made from raw materials extracted from the Earth and, when they reach the end of their life cycle, they are thrown away, with almost no reuse.
Every year we use the available natural resources more and more quickly. In 2019, July 29th was the date on which we consumed what we wanted for a whole year, with 5 months to go. The resources of Planet Earth are finite and increasingly scarce . The extraction of raw materials for the manufacture of products consumed by man has as a direct consequence an enormous expenditure of energy and emissions of polluting gases into the atmosphere.
A radical change in the production chain, in the use of resources and even in the way we consume is becoming more and more urgent. The transition to the circular economy is the answer to the environmental problems caused by the linear model, but it implies a total change of paradigm in the social and economic organization.
But how to contribute to the circular economy?
The main way is to reuse and that goes for everything, be it a smartphone, a garment or a plastic bag. Do not throw away products unnecessarily and use them until they are completely useless. If the product has been damaged, try to repair it instead of buying a new one. And if it doesn't fully satisfy your needs, find someone who wants it instead of getting rid of it.
If that's not possible anymore reuse, make sure you recycle it correctly. Nowadays it is possible to reuse almost any type of waste, even electronic ones! By recycling properly, materials or products that would otherwise be wasted will be given a new lease of life, entering the circular economy.
Note: In case of electronic equipment, make sure DO NOT throw it in the normal trash. At http://www.ondereciclar.pt/ you can check the electronic waste collection centers closest to you to make sure they are recycled correctly.
In the last 15 years, human beings doubled the production (and consumption) of clothing. In addition to these worrying figures, these same clothes are increasingly less and less used and end up in the trash. The fast fashion industry is the second most polluting industry in the world. This industry produces clothing very quickly, usually in underdeveloped countries, with very cheap and polluting materials, thus obtaining a final price accessible to most buyers.
The solution is not to compact with brands without sustainable values.Look for stores in the local commerce that practice fair prices, use quality materials and qualified labor Buy only what you need and know that you will use it and not consume it on impulse. Look for better quality pieces that last longer. It may cost more up front, but it is the garment that lasts much longer. Also look for second-hand clothing stores, with very attractive prices and 100% reused products. Finally, clothes or shoes that you will no longer wear can be sold or donated.
Currently, the food industry follows a model of mass production to satisfy the needs of population growth and consumerism. 31% of the food produced does not even reach the plate, and ends up being wasted. According to the United Nations (UN), food waste causes 10% of greenhouse gases.
To contribute to a more sustainable food economy, you can start with not to waste. Whenever possible, buy the right amount of food so that there is no surplus. Consume food produced in a regenerative and local way, guaranteeing its natural origin. Did you know that you can use orange peel to make tea? The bark is rich in vitamin C and is good for your health.
In 2018, 48.5 million tons of electronic waste (e-trash) have been produced on the planet. In 2019, that number rose to 53 million tonnes. Of this number, only 17% was properly recycled. A study conducted by the UN estimates that by 2050 we will produce around 120 million tons of e-waste.
According to a study by Marketwatch, users buy a new phone on average after 15 months. Either because of a desire to have the latest model, or because of damage that can be repaired at almost the price of a new device. The most effective way to contribute to the circular economy in electronics is to prolong the life of devices by taking good care of them. In this way, you avoid buying a new one so often and, consequently, all the environmental costs associated with its production.
Always choose to repair rather than replace.
If you really need to buy new electronic equipment, you can opt for a refurbished one. These are products that were discarded by the last user, were subjected to rigorous maintenance and replacement of some parts and returned to the market with a much more affordable price and a 1-year warranty. This type of recovery gives new life to technological equipment and contributes to the circular economy model. The renovation market has avoided the waste of thousands of tons of electronic waste per year.