What is the Circular Economy
The idea of the circular economy revolves around the premise of zero wastage from producing goods in the world today. Image if we could recycle 100% of the materials used in any given goods.
The economics behind this make for very sound reading. We live in a linear world where we are consuming ever more goods; production needs to increase, and we are running out of the raw materials needed to keep up. The traditional manufacturing processes are struggling to extract profit because we all want these goods ever more cheaply. While, even in poorer countries, wages are slowly rising, the rate of consumption of goods is rising even faster still.
The circular economy revolves around the principle of total recycling, looked at from an economical perspective.
Let’s go over some of the key points from Nick Liddell’s talk:
How do we implement the principles behind the circular economy?
There are now many ways in which we can make better use of the raw materials we have at hand.
First off, we can design out the waste – that is, looking at what would otherwise be considered waste in a new way, giving it new life. Reuse, repair or refurbish. Furniture reuse is an obvious one here.
Cascading of resources is also becoming mainstream. That is, using the by-products of production to make other products. Marmite has been around for decades, the base product of this delightful spread coming from the brewing of beer. We are now able to produce jet fuel as a bi-product of the steel industry.
Modular design is another great way of making efficient use of resources. Modular design means that when one part of an item needs replacing it can be detached and replaced whilst leaving the rest intact.
Changing sense of ownership
Nick finished his talk with a word on the changing sense of ownership. Do we still need to own anything? We’ve seen the change in ownership in cars and music, it doesn’t have to stop there.
There’s also the idea of viewing your clothes in much the same way that people are now viewing music – not fully owning them but instead merely renting them over a period of time. Think of models used by companies like Airbnb – could you make money out of the clothes your not wearing?
If we are constantly seeing products move through a life-cycle of re-design and re-invention during their own life-cycles we are merely owning them for a part of their lives.
All in all, it was interesting talk and we’d recommend you catch Nick Liddell from the Clearing when you can.