Circular Economy: Getting to the basics.

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You are probably reading this on an electronic mobile device. So it has been assessed that the average lifespan of a mobile device is 2.5-4.7 years, which means within that period of time, you are most likely to dispose of your device.

It ends up in the bin right? mostly likely, except for the 1-3% of users who return their phones for recycling, despite 65-80% of your phone component being easily recyclable. Turns out the rest us are living in the ‘linear economy’. Linear economy involves digging up the ground for resources, using them to make products and returning it to the ground. What is so bad about the linear economy? at least it has existed for quite some time and majority of the world population practice this.

 

linear-economy-desso-de
Source: http://www.desso.de

 

 

An alternative approach is the ‘circular economy’. This simply reroutes the end of life of a product back into another product. So instead of your used phone going into the bin, it becomes a resource is making a new phone.

 

circular_economy-outotec-com
source: http://www.outotec.com

 

Are you thinking this is just another fancy word for recycling?

Well, it is much bigger than reclycling. Recycling is only a component of the circular economy. Product design is a much bigger part. Manufacturers have begun to design products in a way that once product A is used for its primary purpose, it goes on to become a raw material for product B. A good example is a company that makes furniture out of used newspaper. Another good example is a furniture company that relies on used clothes to make furniture.

In a more technical world, products are being designed to be more modular, which makes it easy for they to be easily taken apart. With the example of a car, one can take apart a car to separate the plastics from the metal and every other component used. The same approach applies to a used phone.

Does the circular economy mean there won’t be any more digging into the ground for resources? Unfortunately no. However, what s important is that the amount of resource extraction will be drastically reduced, and exhaustion of mineral resources is more extended.

 

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