Society is used to living according to the traditional scheme: “produce - use - throw away”. However, the surrounding reality dictates its own rules. Increasingly, people are forced to reuse the same material over and over again. This idea is at the heart of the circular economy. In theory, each of us can organize a completely waste-free production, using only renewable resources. Thus, you can begin to compensate for the damage done to the environment by uncontrolled consumption of minerals.
The circular economy poses many challenges to modern society. However, it also provides opportunities for growth and full development. A circular economy, in which all human-derived raw materials are used in a recurring phase regime, will help reduce overall waste.
Basic principles of a cyclical economy
According to the rules of the circular economy, it is necessary to abandon the constant use of new resources. For this, a number of models of behavior in the business environment have been developed. They will help change the usual pattern of movement of finished materials and products in the economic sphere, reducing all costs to a minimum.
The main issue of a circular economy is not to improve all production processes and reduce possible costs, but to completely abandon the use of new natural resources, dealing with those that have already been obtained.
In a circular economy, five important areas of development are traditionally distinguished:
- Cyclical delivery. In this case, the sources of raw materials are replaced with renewable or bio-renewable materials.
- Secondary use. All waste received in the process of work is recycled for subsequent use.
- Service period extension. The turnover of products in the economy is slowing down, so the amount of waste received is sharply reduced.
- Sharing principle. This is an option when one manufactured product is used by several consumers at once. This reduces the level of demand for new products.
- Service delivery. The emphasis is on service, not sales. This method encourages responsible consumption and the development of organic products.
Many enterprises have implemented several models at once, which proves that the described areas do not have a rigidly defined framework. Producers may well manufacture products that will subsequently undergo the necessary disposal under the same conditions. At the same time, the company will also provide services in the area that preserves the environment.
No business model can exist in isolation from each other. Enterprises become interconnected through the use of the same selected development directions. This style of behavior in business has been known for many centuries, in modern society it can be seen in the example of leasing, rental or rental services.
We often observe how it is much more profitable for people to buy an already used, proven thing, instead of buying a new one. This principle can be seen very well on any means of transportation, from a bicycle to a car. Sometimes it is more important for a person to remain mobile than to be the owner of their own transport unit, which will have to spend additional funds.
What opportunities does a circular economy provide?
The circular production process significantly reduces the consequences of the destructive impact on the environment. Recycled raw materials used instead of non-renewable natural resources can reduce the level of greenhouse gases by up to 90%. If it is possible to establish a circular method of production, the amount of waste generated will decrease to 80%.
The principle of sharing, when access to products is more important than possession, opens up many opportunities for consumption and even disposal. This trend offers producers a chance to produce quality products that can be easily recycled.
Consumers will also see a shift in habitual behavior. They will begin to more deliberately choose the moments when it will be most convenient to use the purchased thing. For example, city dwellers driving a shared car use it much less frequently than their own car. This way they reduce their own costs for gasoline and parking services. And the city gets rid of unnecessary cars on its streets.
However, with all the obvious advantages of a cyclical economy, it also has disadvantages:
- With an increase in the amount of biomaterials, the overall load on the planet's ecosystem increases. The process can negatively affect the level of biological diversity.
- Poor control over recycling and recyclable material increases the risk of hypersensitivity to toxic substances present in raw materials.
- Sometimes the sharing principle leads people to deliberate abandonment of green behavior. For example, public transport significantly loses in opportunities for a private car. Moreover, every driver is aware of the harm caused to the atmosphere by petrol and gas fumes.
- Sharing fails in exceptional cases. Sometimes people use the money saved thanks to this method to buy new products, increasing the burden on nature.
Applications of the circular economy
Now the circular economy is not very actively used in the world market. But there are narrowly professional economic niches where the use of secondary raw materials is necessary. For example, the production of steel or rubber has long relied on recyclable materials.
The development of modern technologies allows some principles of the circular economy to even outstrip the market and competitors. Thus, the number of cars in shared use is increasing by about 60% annually. Many areas in the sphere of circular economics can be said to have been tested for strength by time itself. The same industrial metals have been putting into production from 15 to 35% of secondary raw materials for several decades. And the rubber-based industry is increasing production from recycled material by 20% every year.
It is possible to increase the total number of directions that have proven themselves in the economic market, but this will require complex solutions at the government level.