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A circular economy is based on the principles of designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use, and regenerating natural systems.
Shifting the system involves everyone and everything: businesses, governments, and individuals; our cities, our products, and our jobs. By designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use, and regenerating natural systems we can reinvent everything.
Keeping resources in use?
This is the easy part surely?
Only 12,000 tonnes of furniture is reused in Scotland each year.
We throw away over 62,000 tonnes of fresh vegetables and 70 million litres of liquid consumables every year.
According to Gov.scot's 2016 'Making things last: A circular economy strategy for Scotland' second hand goods are to become a good value mainstream option. Behaviours that encourage and support a circular economy and product reuse are to become common place in an attempt to end our 'throwaway culture'.
Why are our reuse statistics still relatively low?
An estimated 350,000 tonnes of used clothing goes to landfill in the UK every year.
Current circular economy strategies prioritise the maximisation of the financial value of our resources at every stage of their life cycle...
The circular economy relies on the resale model as its primary redistribution strategy for used resources. Does the resource have a sufficient value to sell it as is or are the materials worth more. This dilemma will force many good usable resources into the recycling cycle prematurely.
We are disrupting the circle...
The circular economy framework has to change. We must incentivise the acquisition of used resources and make the purchasing decision less divisive when choosing between new and used. We must stop incentivising people to trade in their resources for parts and materials when they still have plenty of life left in them. We must stop relying on the charitable sector to keep our resources in circulation. We must prioritise reuse over resale.
The Zero Cost Economy
In order to maximise the potential reach for our used resources we must look to remove as many barriers to reuse as possible. We believe the main barrier preventing the maximisation of the resource's reuse potential is money/cost.
The current circular system encourages the resale of our unwanted goods via private marketplaces, the second hand retail network i.e. charity shops and similar second hand outlets. If we (or these retailers) can't sell our goods, we/they are then encouraged to recycle them. Trading cash for clothes or breaking down our goods into material components (wood, metal etc) to sell on.
Imagine a circular system that prioritised reuse of our goods in their 1st generation form rather than maximising the financial value we can squeeze out of that resource at every stage of its life cycle. By redesigning the circle to prioritise zero cost redistribution of resources, we have the potential to divert tens of thousands of tonnes of goods back into use, diverting millions of tonnes of CO2 via the avoidance of recycling, landfill and incineration, whilst slowing the demand for the manufacture of new goods.
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