Environmentalism, green initiatives and sustainability are terms that can be seen in every newspaper on a daily basis.
The need to look after the planet has never been more essential, nor has it ever gained as much media coverage. And while there is no one solution that will solve the impending environmental crisis, there is a concept that is bandied about time and again that, if fully realised, would be a huge step in the right direction: the circular economy.
But what exactly is the circular economy, and what will it attempt to achieve?
1. It preserves resources.
Central to the idea of the circular economy is the idea that resources will be reused or recycled. By limiting the amount of new materials used and products created, carbon emissions will be drastically reduced and waste will be cut.
2. It will create jobs.
The circular economy is very likely to create new jobs given that more focus will be given to preservation and education. People that can go into schools and workplaces to spread the word and discuss best practice will be needed around the world, for example.
3. New technologies will be needed.
As with any major period of change or transition in any sector or industry, it will be essential to utilise new technologies and equipment. This could be so as to alter products to make them suitable for a new purpose, or to create new products that can be easily modified or recycled further down the line.
4. The U.K. is already doing it pretty well.
You may be surprised to hear that the U.K. is already regarded as being 19% circular. It is expected that this percentage will increase drastically in the coming years, and could even be as much as 25% already, although figures are not currently available post-2016.
5. Business and households will have to adapt.
Of course, the circular economy concept will only actually succeed if people change their mentalities and start to focus on reusing materials rather than buying things new. This is something that many people have already started embracing, especially given the rise in the number of people using keep cups at coffee shops, for example.
However, government buy-in is also extremely necessary. And, given that the House of Commons bought 600,000 single-use plastic bottles in 2018 alone, it is clear that there is still much more to be done.