Circular economy in its simplest form can be Recycling. However, every time we recycle, the item is repurposed at a lower value than it was before, therefore in many senses, it’s the “longest route”. So we have collected used paper, we need to make recycled paper for it then to be purchased by someone else. Essentially, it triggers another production cycle altogether requiring some level of energy and waste production. Each time we recycle something, the value of the initial raw material diminishes a bit more.
Then you have Rebuild & Renew, Reuse & Resell, which involves using something old to create something new without having to go through the entire production process, but to give it a makeover so that the same skeleton of the goods can be used again. By doing so, we maintain a higher value of our resources for a longer period of time, this is often referred to as Upcycling.
The shortest route in the circular economy is to Refurbish & Fix something, as well as to Rent. This means that the same energy used to create one item, can be used to satisfy multiple consumption needs of individuals, instead of everyone possessing one of the same item. We can think of the sharing economy, or access economy, that has really created a new way of consumption where we are paying to have access to mobility, rather than to pay for transportation or to purchase a vehicle. We pay to have access to music and movies, not to possess it.
This doesn’t mean that we do not consume actual products anymore, there are thing that we use way too frequently or too personal to apply a shared economy. We still have to wear clothes, eat, possess (or obsess) a phone…So sharing and access economy is not a business model that can substitute everything that we do. Then are we only left with taking the longer routes? Not really.
A true circular economy can be achieved when you have a community of people and businesses that work together to achieve this mission. So why is your trash someone else’s cash? The concept of a circular industry complex is becoming increasingly popular.
It is basically a community of manufacturers or companies setup within close proximity of each other in a complex, that will take someone’s waste to become their resources or energy for production, which in turn their produced waste will be used by another company. The goal is to collectively create as little waste at the end of everyone’s production cycle as possible, to lower their harm to the environment. Whilst we may not all be able to be situated in such kind of complex, if we follow similar principles, we can too, contribute to a circular economy in our own way following some simple steps:
- Think about your entire operation, jot down each process, drilling down to the steps each process takes.
- What part of your process requires resources? Can these resources be acquired in another way?
- What would “waste” be for you? If you are a restaurant, it would be food packaging, food waste, water. If you make clothes, how is the fabric acquired, does the dying process create waste, what do you do with excess cuts? Could your trash, be anyone else’s cash?
- Identify partners that you may be able to collaborate with, innovate together to try and reduce each other’s footprint.
- It’s very important that business do not think that participating in a circular economy is being charitable, we are trying to be sustainable. Innovation must bring value to your existing operations by streamlining certain processes, reducing certain costs, or adding value somewhere in your production. If your innovation cannot satisfy any of the above, it is not a sustainable idea!
At Myth, we act as the catalyst for innovators to find other innovators that share the same values and create sustainable and long-term partnerships (join the Myth movement). We can also help you strategize how to go about lowering your environmental impact whilst being more productive. Get in touch with us at email@example.com and see how we can help you.
Yes, tooth fairies do exist.