Circular Economy is the latest business buzzword. It’s often thrown around meetings and green initiatives without being given context. Hopefully, this blog can shed light on the importance of the concept for our future society.
A Circular Economy is a flow of materials and/or energy that has no beginning or end. Each ‘end’ loops back to be the start of the next cycle. Nothing is wasted. It’s a return to the natural cycle of the earth, where the top of the food chain dies and so helps new plants grow. All ‘waste’ is regained as a valuable resource.
You might think, ‘this is just a fancy word for recycling’, and you’d be partially correct. Upcycling and recycling old products is our closest attempt to a Circular Economy. However, the principle has more depth than our current recycling methods. Firstly, there are inherent problems with our recycling processes. Secondly, even in ideal conditions materials can only be recycled a limited amount of times. The structure of the material becomes degraded beyond use and therefore it is thrown into landfill. This isn’t a Circular Economy, rather a linear economy but with a prolonged life. Don’t get me wrong, this is massively better than landfilling straight away, but we shouldn’t be happy with this outcome, we need to strive towards an infinite Circular Economy. Especially as currently ‘90% of the raw materials used globally are not cycled back into the economy’.
The Circular Economy seems so perfect don’t you think. Completely recycling all waste and creating even more resources in the process. But then why isn’t this the standard? How can we adopt the Circular Economy for everything?
At BIG ATOM we believe there are two ways we can create a Circular Economy: firstly, completely switching materials and systems to sustainable options and secondly, innovating new methods of turning waste into a resource.
To change the materials and systems we rely on every day requires a massive commitment by the government, corporations and consumers (us). To reject the cheaper option in favour of one that does far less harm is not a comfortable choice. Even then the solutions may still result in a linear economy, just with a prolonged life. At BIG ATOM we believe the second option holds more merit. By turning waste into a resource we offer corporations a viable alternative that can compete with the original material. Thus simplifying and encouraging the switch to an infinite Circular Economy.
Design Engineer Intern, BIG ATOM