It is the only way to achieve our future prosperity. It is the best option we have to conquer a desirable future, since there is no other way out, unless we duplicate the surface of the planet Earth. A circular economy is an alternative economy to the traditional linear economy that we know today and that consists of producing, using and disposing of the goods or products that we manufacture, so that the life cycle is short, and that we later turn into waste or garbage. which we have to get rid of.
On the contrary, the Circular Economy is an economy that maintains the utility of resources for as long as possible, extracts the maximum value from resources while they are in use, as well as recovering and regenerating the products and materials that are used, in the end of its life cycle.
The Circular Economy is absolutely necessary because the world in which we live has finite resources. Metals, gas and oil are not unlimited resources, unlike our appetite for them. In addition, our current development model involves a total linearity throughout the process that starts from the extraction of raw materials, passes through the manufacture of consumer goods, the use of the products it produces and concludes with the generation of waste for its subsequent disposal as garbage. This economy is totally unsustainable.
On the contrary, a circular economy is an alternative model that is anticipated and designed so that the products we manufacture, or the materials we consume, can be reused, recycled or reduced. It creates a kind of biological and “nutrients” that allow us to continuously reuse the goods or products of the same quality, drastically reducing our dependence on obtaining new materials.
In addition, we must consider that the circular economy is a practical solution to the crisis of emerging resources of the planet. The reserves of key resources such as metals and minerals known as rare earths are decreasing, while the costs of exploration and extraction of these mineral resources are increasing. As the current model of the linear economy, consisting of “produce, use and dispose” , the final result is a massive production of waste or waste that only causes problems of elimination, as well as a progressive exhaustion of resources.
In effect, 90% of the raw materials used in the manufacture of a product become garbage, even before the product leaves the factory. In the same way, 80% of manufactured products become garbage within the first six months of its useful life. These facts, together with the growing tensions that arise around geopolitics and supply risks, are contributing to the fact that the prices of these products are often volatile. The Circular Economy could help to stabilize some of these issues and, in particular, to dissociate economic growth from the consumption of resources.
The Circular Economy is much more than a product recycling
While the substitution of secondary materials for primary materials can offer a partial solution to the problem of depletion of resources, recycling offers limited appeal because its processes are energy intensive and, in general, degrade materials, so that This leads to the continuous high demand for virgin materials. That’s what happens with paper or recycling paper.
The circular economy goes beyond recycling, since it is based on an industrial system of restoration oriented towards the design of waste. For this reason, the Circular Economy demands a greater energy contribution in the processes of “reusing, repairing and recycling”. The objective of the design of the products is not only that the design allows a better recovery, at the end of the life of the product, but that it reduces, to a minimum, the consumption of energy necessary for its recovery.