“Buildings that become rubble and waste at the end of their life cycle have a design problem.” – EPEA 2020
As we are all aware, technology is changing by the day and the desire to have the most up to date phone or tablet is now second nature. Continuous innovations allow us to have these fast-adapting technologies from all around the world and at an affordable price, so no wonder we are all in a frenzy to keep up to date and buy the latest piece of technology year after year.
I think its fair to say that we (or more so, those of us that generally pull the short straw and have to take the bins out) are well aware of the amount of waste that we dispose of each week – but did you know that the equivalent of one rubbish truck of textiles is landfilled or burnt every second? Our current way of living and doing things is no longer working for businesses, people or most importantly our environment. We take resources from the ground to make products, which we use and then when they are no longer wanted or needed, we throw them away. This creating a “take-make-waste” approach, which is simply no longer an option. This is called ‘Linear Economy’.
Now for the change, The Circular Economy.
The Circular Economy is a systematic approach to economic development designed to benefit businesses, society, and the environment. It takes product processes into consideration and outlines how to reuse, repair, and recycle items, giving primary responsibility to design manufacturers to cut today’s “take-make-waste” approach. The consequences of decisions being made at the very beginning of a design stage are where 80% of environmental impacts are determined. Therefore, the cycle heavily depends on change from right at the beginning of the cycle. The resources used should be those that can serve as starting materials for new, pollutant-free products. And yes, even after they have been recycled and used many times prior!
“We must change our mind set to view waste as a design flaw and harness new materials and technologies to ensure that waste and pollution are not created for in the first place.” Ellen McArthur Foundation
Recycling as a term is questionable when the materials that are being used in any cycle become waste after their second or third use. This is also not in line with true Circular Economy approach. A step in the right direction is sharing concepts of re-use to enable us to ‘upcycle’ products rather than ‘downcycling’ them, allowing these products to circulate continuously in product cycles.
So, what can I do?
Educate yourself, reading this blog is a good start! Read up on recent case studies and companies that are on board, did you know Coca-Cola have introduced a new reusable plastic bottle which can be used up to 25 more times, reducing overall plastic use by 90%. Read more about it here.
Encourage your company, colleagues, friends, and family to take on this method. Encourage them to upcycle, donate and reduce their overall waste. I think it is time to ask whether you are doing your part, because we are doing ours!
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