Simply put, a circular economy is one in which our consumption of resources and materials is circular rather than linear—we reuse our resources and put them back into the economy rather than throwing them away.
A big reason why we, as a world community, are not making the switch to a circular economy is simple: it requires massive systemic change. In order to achieve a true circular economy, it will require a great effort by individuals, businesses, and governments.
This massive endeavor relegates the concept of a circular economy to nothing more than a pipe dream for many. However, it’s not something that we should give up on. In fact, the EU adopted a plan in March 2020 to achieve a circular economy in order to reach their 2050 climate neutrality target.
This shows that a circular economy is feasible, and actions are in place to actually make it happen. But, when such a huge systemic effort is needed, it makes sense that there must be major benefits to adopting a circular economy in order to make it worth the work. Here are five massive benefits of a circular economy.
1. Reduces the use of non-renewable resources
For decades, scientists have been warning us about the dangers of overuse of limited resources.
Today, more than ever, we continue to consume nonrenewable resources—like oil and metal ores—as though we have an endless supply. This practice is not sustainable. Through a circular economy, practices like reusing resources and refurbishing old products (rather than throwing them away) are the norm. This ensures that we use fewer nonrenewable resources.
A true circular economy will boast zero waste, meaning nothing gets thrown away. Essentially, it’s a smarter way to use the resources that we have.
2. Lowers carbon emissions
According to the European Environment Agency, materials management (such as the production and disposal of materials) contributes up to two-thirds of greenhouse gas emissions.
A circular economy will help minimize that since its entire model revolves around sustainable management of materials. Through a circular economy, materials are managed more efficiently through reuse of products and materials, encouraged use of renewable resources, maintaining sustainable practices, and more.
3. Aims for zero waste
A cornerstone of a circular economy is to reuse resources and products leading to a zero waste model.
This is beneficial for everyone.
Zero waste means fewer ocean-bound plastics, less trash in our oceans, and fewer landfills. It also means that there’s less of a need to mine finite resources; we reuse them instead.
While many environmental models require reduction in order to achieve zero waste, the circular economy model actually encourages growth. This makes it an ideal goal for industry, individuals, and governments alike all while achieving much-needed environmental goals.
4. Provides benefits for the consumer
Besides the environmental benefits, a circular economy provides plenty of benefits for the consumer. Due to the reuse of materials, it discourages practices like planned obsolescence, which means that your products will last longer.
It also promises an increased disposable income since it encourages practices like buying used items, leasing or renting instead of owning, and other more economic practices.
Another huge benefit to the consumer is job creation. In order to achieve a circular economy, many new industry types will need to emerge. This means that there will be plenty of new jobs available. A huge worldwide concern is that many environmental practices may take away certain job opportunities, like coal mining or other jobs that revolve around nonrenewable resources.
With a move toward a circular economy, these jobs will not only be replaced with other opportunities, but even more jobs may emerge.
5. Opens new opportunities for companies
Companies can also see many benefits to the circular economy model. Along with more job availability mentioned above comes more business opportunities (such as refurbishing old items, collecting used resources like clothing or electronics, and so on).
Existing companies can also enjoy a more secure supply of resources as we reuse the resources that we already have rather than depending upon finite resources. This may decrease the cost of materials allowing companies to run more efficiently. The practice may also improve customer loyalty.
Today’s consumers want to support companies whose philosophies align with their own, and green initiatives are among the most important ideals for customers. By adopting a more environmental business model, you may widen your consumer base and create more loyal customers.
Achieving a circular economy is no small undertaking; it will require a worldwide effort of individuals, businesses, and governments to achieve.
But, with all of its benefits, there’s really no reason why we shouldn’t start moving toward this model today. Join the many businesses who are moving toward a circular economy model by neutralizing your plastic waste through purchasing plastic credits. Learn more here.