Circular Economy and Waste Reduction Week
Each day of Waste Reduction Week and its associated theme is presented through the lens of its contribution to advancing a Circular Economy. As a relatively new concept in Canada, the theme days provide an opportunity to educate what is meant by the Circular Economy as each theme has its own story to tell.
Monday’s programming showcases new and innovative circular economy stories and the organizations that are championing this new concept helping making linkages to how it advances resource efficiencies and waste reduction.
Circular Economy - An Introduction
Products have historically been designed for convenience but with no consideration of the waste left behind. Take the plastic straw for example; Canadians use 57 million of them every day and most end up in the garbage or lost to the environment. Take a raw material, make something, use it, and dispose it; that is a linear economy. The solution is in the circular economy where we design products so resources can be reused and reinvested in new products again and again.
How is this different from recycling? Rather than having to find a recycling solutions after a product is designed and brought to market — like the plastic straw — recovery and material reuse is part of the design and manufacturing process of the product from the beginning.
A circular economy also supports the idea of access over ownership. Streaming services like Spotify and Netflix rent access to content without you needing to own anything like CDs and DVDs. By shifting to access over ownership, the responsibility falls to manufacturers to make longer lasting and more efficient products that are designed with repair and reuse as primary considerations.
How can we advance the circular economy? Purchase smartly designed products meant to be reused, refurbished, and dismantled. Support companies that offer take-back of products after use. Embrace access over ownership.
Facts and Stats
- Canada needs a circular economy that is restorative and regenerative by design; and aims to keep products, components, and materials at their highest utility and value at all times.
- We can re-design the way our economy works by designing products and services that limit consumption, improve the value materials and protect resources
- The circular economy aims to redefine products and services to design waste out.
- Circular business models will prove essential for businesses that want to be future-proof in a society where resource constraints are a growing problem and consumer attitudes are shifting towards alternatives for ownership and consumption.
- There a five circular business models:
- Circular supplies: Supply fully renewable, recyclable, or biodegradable resource inputs to support circular production.
- Resource recovery: Eliminate material leakage and maximize economic value of product return flows.
- Products life extension: Extend the current lifecycle of a product: repairability, upgrading, reselling.
- Products as service: Stimulating collaboration among product users.
- Sharing plaforms: Products are used by one or many customers through lease or pay-for-use arrangements