What is the circular economy and what are the benefits?
The circular economy is a model of production and consumption, which implies sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing and recycling existing materials and products as long as possible. The aim of it is to extend the life cycle of products and reduce waste to a minimum.
It is opposed to the traditional linear economic model, based on a take-make-consume-throw away pattern, in which the products are intentionally designed to have a limited lifespan to encourage consumers to buy continously. Indeed, it became clear that this model is no longer sustainable, since the world’s population is growing and with it grows the demand for raw materials, but their supply is limited! Moreover the extraction and use of raw materials increases energy consumption and CO2 emissions, resulting in a major impact on the environment.
For this reason, implementing this model could reduce by a lot total annual greenhouse gas emissions and in addition, it could save companies money and eventually boost economic growth! Lastly, also consumers benefit from this revolutionary model, having the possibility of buying more durable and innovative products that will increase the quality of life and save them money in the long term.
How does it differ from recycling?
Recycling deals specifically with the end of the life cycle of the product while the circular economy addresses potential problems right at the source.
In fact it’s the consequences of decisions made at the design stage that determine around 80% of environmental impacts, for this reason we need to ensure that products and materials are designed, from the outset, to be reused, repaired, and remanufactured!
Which are the leading countries in circular economy?
In recent years Europe’s policies on circular economy have continued to grow and gain importance. Finally, in March 2020, the new Circular Economy Action Plan was approved, as part of the Green Deal. It focuses on design and production providing measures for businesses, public authorities and consumers to adopt a sustainable model.
But beyond these policies, each European country has its own circular economy regulations, leading to approaches remarkably different among them. The most progressive country is the Netherlands, in fact the Dutch government has the ambitious project to become a country 100% based on circular economy by 2050. It is followed by France, which has the most favourable legislation on circular economy and eco-innovation, and Italy!