Why is the circular economy the future? – From triple bottom line perspectives
Our economy is now stuck in a system that favors a linear model of production and consumption, exacerbating the climate crisis and jeopardizing human life and the planet we all rely on. Circularity, however, is infiltrating the linear economy because its benefits are obvious and span three areas: environmental, social, and economic. A circular economy, in contrast to the linear ‘take-make-waste’ model, is regenerative by design and aims to gradually sever the link between growth and finite resource consumption. Let’s learn why a circular economy would be a good investment for the future by looking at its benefits from triple bottom line perspectives.
- Carbon dioxide emissions reduction
The circular economy plays an indispensable role in addressing the climate crisis. It proposes a strategy that not only uses renewable energy but also changes how things are built and utilized. It has the potential to cut world CO2 emissions from cement, steel, plastics, and aluminum manufacturing by 40%, or 3.7 billion tons, by 2050, accomplishing over half of their net-zero emissions goal.
- Primary material consumption reduction
By 2030, the circular economy may reduce primary material consumption by 32% (i.e. automotive and building materials, real estate land, synthetic fertilizer, pesticides, agriculture usage, fuels, and non-renewable power). This helps to avoid the severe resource depletion, waste, and pollution produced by our existing linear economy’s production and consumption patterns.
- Land productivity and soil health improvement
As opposed to a linear economy, a circular economy may enable increased land productivity, reduced waste in the food value chain, and the return of nutrients to the soil, all of which increase the value of land and soil as assets. Regenerative farming practices may improve soil health, allowing it to offer critical habitats for microorganisms at the start of the food chain, such as fungus and insects, as well as the animals that rely on them.
- Health improvement
Circularity encourages the use of non-toxic, natural materials and processes that improve ecosystems, protecting water, air, and soil quality, and hence human health. By 2050, a circular economy for food, stimulated by cities, is expected to save 290,000 lives per year that would otherwise be lost to outdoor air pollution.
- Social equity enhancement
Waste workers in emerging economies are disproportionately affected by waste and pollution. A circular economy that employs effective waste management techniques and incorporates waste workers into the process, as well as effective recycling methods, can help poor countries produce jobs. In terms of gender, by addressing waste and pollution, a circular economy may also help in the alleviation of gender inequality caused by these factors in a linear economy. As a matter of fact, women are at a higher risk of plastic-related toxicity since they’re exposed to more plastic reception and even in feminine care products.
- Job creation potential
According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), changes in energy production, such as the creation of renewable energy, increased efficiency, the adoption of electric cars, and improved building efficiency, can result in a net gain of 18 million jobs worldwide. Increased expenditure fueled by lower prices; high-quality, labor-intensive recycling operations; and higher-skilled occupations in remanufacturing are all factors contributing to this positive impact on employment. From social perspectives, individuals in communities who are given the opportunity to work can help to alleviate poverty and reduce world hunger.
- Economic growth
Waste generation is reduced in a circular economy through careful product design and an industrial process in which resources are continually circulated in a “closed-loop system.” Through more productive input usage, emerging circular activities will help raise profits and cut production costs. These changes in input and output of economic production activities will impact supply, demand, and prices across the economy, contributing to total economic growth.
- Material cost savings
The circular economy may save up to USD 630 billion per year in the EU alone in the medium-life complex product sectors, which include devices like mobile phones, washing machines, and autos. Moreover, the analysis found an extra USD 700 billion cost-cutting opportunity for the FMCG business on a global scale.
- Innovation promotion
The desire to replace linear products and processes with circular ones offers tremendous creative potential. Using more sustainable ways may be slightly more expensive, but it may drive innovation and improve business reputations. Higher rates of technical progress, superior materials, labor, energy efficiency, and greater profit prospects for companies are all advantages of a more innovative economy.
For more information, please refer to Ellen Macarthur Foundation: The Circular Economy in Detail.
In the next article, we will explain how local businesses, including ours, are implementing circular economy approaches, demonstrating the circular economy in action.