As we get our heads around the escalating environmental crisis our world is facing, the need to change the way we do business to one based on a circular economy is more critical than ever.
From linear to circular economy
A circular economy differs significantly from the traditional linear model. The linear economy is based on a ‘take-make-dispose’ cycle, which depletes natural resources and leads to substantial waste. Conversely, a circular economy seeks to be restorative and regenerative by design, applying strategies like the 3Rs – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – but also the 4Rs of Refurbish, Repair, Remanufacture, and Repurpose. It revolves around the idea that there is no waste, only finite resources.
The three pillars of circularity within a circular economy
1. Design out waste and pollution
Products should be created to be durable, non-toxic, and with minimal waste, with plans in place for end-of-life recovery and recycling.
2. Keep products and materials in use
Rather than disposing of products at the end of their life, keep them in the loop. Repair, remanufacture, repurpose, make them more durable and recycle them into new products.
3. Regenerate natural systems
Work towards reducing harm to our ecosystems and actively enhancing them.
Benefits of circularity
So, why should businesses care about circularity? Adopting a circular approach can lead to significant cost savings. By reusing and recycling materials and reducing reliance on raw resources, businesses can cut their production costs.
Circularity also opens up new business opportunities. It paves the way for innovative business models that differentiates companies in the marketplace and builds resilience. This could include anything from offering a product-as-a-service, launching take-back schemes for products at the end of their life, to developing new compostable materials and products.
Moreover, circularity addresses the mounting regulatory pressures and changing customer expectations around sustainability. By reusing materials and reducing waste, it can lessen the demand for new resources and decrease the amount of waste that ends up in our landfills and oceans.
Companies that are able to demonstrate their commitment to circular practices will find themselves better equipped to meet these and their Environmental. Social and Governance (ESG) demands.
To realise a truly circular economy, we need systemic change that involves everyone, from individual consumers to large corporations, and from local communities to national governments.
Transitioning to a circular model in business requires a rethink of traditional models and processes. It involves prioritising and incorporating circular principles into product design and business models, investing in renewable and recyclable materials, implementing effective waste management systems, and creating regulations and incentives that promote circularity.
Circular business practices – where to start
It’s not always easy to know where to start. Here are some circularity topics to consider for your sustainable business practices and products
- Product lifecycle analysis (LCA); studying the full lifecycle of a product from materials sourcing to disposal
- Waste reduction strategies; techniques to minimise waste in manufacturing and consumption
- Design for disassembly: designing products for easier recycling or reuse
- Biomimicry in circular design; learning from nature to design sustainable products and systems
- Resource Recovery; techniques to retrieve valuable materials from waste
- Sharing Economy; understanding the role of shared resources in a circular economy
- Extended producer responsibility; shifting responsibility for waste from consumers to producers
- Industrial symbiosis; companies collaboratively managing and reducing waste
How can Eurofins Sustainability Services help
Eurofins offers a range of testing, inspection and certification services which help you towards sustainable, circular goals across your whole value chain.
Our wide-reaching services which can help your business towards a circular economy range from supply chain mapping, and waste management audits to life cycle analysis, durability and compostability. View our range of sustainability services or contact us today to talk to one of our sustainability experts.
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