In the 1970s the linear economy became popular worldwide: take, use, discard. This form of consumption has brutally increased the amount of waste that cannot be recycled.
To get an idea, 28% of the world’s population is part of the consumer society, it seems a very low number but that percentage translates into 1,728 million people. The countries with the highest percentage in terms of consumer population are Japan (95%) and the United States (84%). There are 349 million people who belong to the consumer movement in Western Europe, which is equivalent to 89% of the continent’s population.
If you look at the plastic they recycle the data is discouraging. Yale University concluded in a 2015 study (the latest year for which data are available, although it was worse after the Trump administration abandoned the Paris Climate Agreement) that more than 32 million tons of plastic were dumped in landfills in the US, that were never recycled.
Thinking that the natural resources we use to create single-use materials will exist forever is wrong thinking. On the contrary, natural resources are running out. Due to these facts, governments, institutions, and companies have seen the importance of adopting a new type of more sustainable economy: Welcome to the Circular Economy.
But what is this new economic model? The circular economy is about minimizing disposable waste by reusing and recycling existing products. Once products reach their end of life, they return to the market as another product instead of being discarded.
For example, at SUSTONABLE, we use recycled PET plastic bottles to create our slabs. We reuse 100 plastic bottles for every 1m2 of surface, bottles that were discarded, picked up, collected, cleaned, and introduced in our production process.
Sustonable material can be recycled over and over again, so Sustonable can be returned to the market as another surface.
In addition, companies can help by joining projects such as the Ellen Macarthur Foundation, called “New Plastic Economy” focused on 3 factors:
- Eliminate the plastics that we do not need.
- Innovate to ensure that the plastics we need are recycled, reusable or compostable.
- Circulate all the plastic items that we use to keep them in the economy and out of the environment
The production of everyday materials emits 45% of CO2 daily, that is why the European Parliament has listed the benefits of a circular economy.
“Moving towards a more circular economy could reduce pressure on the environment, improving the security of raw materials supply, stimulating competitiveness, innovation, economic growth (an additional 0.5% of GDP), and employment (around 700.000 jobs would be created in the EU alone by 2030)”. Besides, the European Union adds that: “It can also provide consumers with more durable and innovative products that provide monetary savings and a higher quality of life, for example, if mobile phones were easier to disassemble the cost of remanufacturing could be cut in half”.
This new circular economy helps fight against programmed obsolescence, the scarcity of natural products, the deforestation of forests, and the ecosystem where millions of animal and plant species live.