What Does 'Circular Economy' Mean?
There are many terms that get thrown around when talking about sustainability and it can become quite a minefield when you are new to the topic.
We want to help make sustainability more accessible to all and this means providing transparency and clarity when it comes to some of the terminology.
One very common phrase that gets used is 'circular economy' which is defined as 'a model of production and consumption, which involves sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing and recycling existing materials and products as long as possible. In this way, the life cycle of products is extended.'
Our current economy is built on 'take, make, use, dispose, repeat' which is a linear model that is draining resources and destroying the planet (amongst other things) so it is not a sustainable way to live. In trying to find a solution to this problem, the circular economy was introduced.
This system is rooted in three principles: eliminate, circulate and regenerate. The sole purpose of circular economy is to eliminate waste and protect non-renewable resources by keeping materials and products in circulation for as long as possible rather than throwing them away.
By design, circular economy creates an economy that is restorative and protects the environment from the pollution caused by excessive waste and the production of goods.
What are some examples of circular economy?
There are many examples of circular economy in our society and you are likely to encounter one every day. When you put an empty container or water bottle into a recycling bin, when you take your clothes to a charity shop or even when you repurpose old furniture, you are contributing to a circular economy.
As for specific materials and products that are created as a result of the circular economy, rPET is a very popular example. It undergoes a closed-loop production where plastic water bottles are mechanically recycled and converted into new fibres that can be used to make a range of products, including clothes and home textiles.
This process has been replicated across other fabrics, such as cotton and canvas, to create a long list of recycled materials that are now being used in the fashion and textile industry.
It's a model that is growing in popularity across many industries; from circular fashion to return deposit schemes, consumers are being encouraged to divert their waste from landfills by increasing their lifespan and get involved in the circularity by purchasing recycled or pre-loved goods.
What are the benefits of circular economy?
The biggest and most obvious benefit of the circular economy is that it reduces the amount of waste being sent to landfills.
The most recent figures (2017) show that UK households produce 27 million tonnes of waste each year of which over 54% ends up in a landfill or the ocean - and this doesn't even include commercial or construction waste. This leaves piles of products and materials slowly decomposing (that is only the ones that can) and emitting an excessive amount of harmful carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
In fact, landfill waste contributes to approximately 5% of global CO2 emissions. This may sound like a small figure but, to put it into perspective, it is doing more damage to the environment than deforestation.
By encouraging people to recycle, and offering them more recyclable options when it comes to packaging, clothing and other consumer products, these figures will decrease substantially.
Another benefit is that circular economy reduces the use of non-renewable resources. Instead, of draining the limited resources we have, such as oil and coal, to make brand new materials, a circular economy reuses what has already been made.
The reality is that if we keep using non-renewable resources at the current rate then we will start running out of them as early as this year. For example, chromium could be eradicated from the face of the earth in 2022 whilst lead will completely disappear by 2025 and oil may be non-existent in just 24 years.
A cyclical model of living will enable us to hold onto these resources for far longer and build economic, social and natural capital by making the transition to renewable energy and regenerative production.
Furthermore, closed-loop production, which is a by-product of circular economy, requires less energy and water usage; this effectively lowers carbon emissions.
In fact, reports show that by designing out waste, keeping materials in use and regenerating farmland, emissions could reduce by 9.3 billion tonnes. This would have a substantial positive impact on the environment and slow down climate change which is more than enough reason to start recycling and repurposing at a higher rate.
We encourage and support the circular economy with our recycled bag collection. Each bag in this range is made using recycled materials certified by GRS (Global Recycled Standard) and is recyclable itself to keep it in a closed-loop production model.
Businesses can also add their logo or artwork to these bags to create an eco-friendly custom-printed bag for promotional events, giveaways, gifting and more.