2020 was the year of the Circular Economy, do you know what it is? It is an economic model oriented to eco-sustainability and is increasingly in vogue among European countries and private companies. We will see together some virtuous examples of companies that have chosen to adopt a model of environmentally friendly economy, aimed at maintaining the value of products, materials and resources, to minimize the production of waste.
What is circular economy
According to the definition of Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the term Circular Economy refers to an economy designed to regenerate itself. It was created to replace the linear economy, a system with a scheme that has become unsustainable.
However, the meaning of Circular Economy is not only this: through this concept we mean a model of production and consumption able to exploit existing products and natural resources. Its objective is very noble: it aims at extending the life cycle of products and at the same time contributes to reducing the waste derived from them. Once the product has completed its function, the materials of which it was composed are reintroduced into the production cycle. They become a resource where for someone else they had become waste.
The circular economy always implies that there is reuse, sharing, repair and reconditioning of materials, as well as products.
Linear Economy and Circular Economy: comparing schemes
The production cycle of the Circular Economy does not reflect the pattern of the traditional linear system, where the conceptual pillars remain:
This economic approach is based on theextraction of raw materials and mass consumption, practices that today are no longer sustainable: all the processes of extraction and disposal have a major impact on the environment!
Moreover, this scheme does not enhance the value of the product, shortening its life cycle: with the linear economy, products have a precise beginning and end and their life ends in the trash. Waste is automatically unusable for productive purposes.
The Circular Economy, on the other hand, is characterized by a decidedly different scheme. Here are its pillars:
- Product as a Service (PaaS)
- Sustainable and innovative materials
- Property Sharing (sharing economy)
- Product/material regeneration
- Increased product lifespan
So Reduce, Reuse and Recycling! The regenerative economic system isdesigned to give a second life to products, reintroducing them into the economic cycle .
Benefits of the Circular Economy
The move towards a circular economy should be adopted by every country in the world, but not everyone has the tools to apply it in practice. Luckily for us,Europe has set up an action plan specifically for the Circular Economy, including a series of legislative initiatives for the coming years. Why this choice? Not only to safeguard the planet, but also for a series of advantages linked to this type of economic model. The benefits of the Circular Economy are:
- Reduction of emissions harmful emissions into the environment
- Greater availability of raw materials
- More competitiveness in the markets, with consequent limitations for lobbies
- Higher economic growth
- More jobs
Circular Economy: virtuous examples
The self-generating economy is not a priority for government agencies: many private companies have already adopted (or defined a business plan) the economic model that gives more value to products. Here are some well-known brands:
Too Good to Go
App created to fight food waste, connects consumers with food providers. How it works. Through the app, you buy unsold food from stores, restaurants and supermarkets, and at a very affordable price!(Read more about this company in our article on R5 Living)
The world-famous Swedish brand has announced that it wants to achieve by 2030 to become a totally circular business. What does that mean? In the real estate sector it means promoting the rental, return and repurchase of furniture, so as to extend its life as much as possible.
In collaboration with Favini, the company has launched the "CartaCrusca" project, aimed at recovering bran. The aim is to turn this ingredient into a raw material for the production of paper. The collaboration between Barilla and Favini has led to the creation of sustainable packaging made from bran paper.
In our own small way, we are committing ourselves not only to sustainability, but also to the recovery of waste materials wherever possible, as we have done for example in the creation of our solid waste containers, made entirely of recycled plastic from the separate urban waste collection of our city, Bergamo.