Circular economy 1.0
In the current situation of the climate crisis humans can no longer progress in the same old-fashion way, consistent exploitation of natural resources is unacceptable. As well as capitalism, as we know, is leading the planet to a dead end. A circular economy provides better solutions and sets a direction for the transition towards a greener economy that benefits a greater amount of people. A simple example is to move from product towards service that is based on sharing, renting, and reusing. It doesn’t mean that the consumption stops, but it offers a better and more sustainable cycle. A few of the core elements include the use of products as long, as possible along with service and maintenance which must be part of it. Retail moves to sell more services than products. Demand from consumers for more sustainable commodities in the supply chain. Possibility to disassemble products/goods at the end of the cycle to recycle and process the leftover materials.
Circular economy solutions are needed to safeguard biodiversity and solve the climate crisis.
Finland wrote the world’s first national road map to a circular economy in 2016 and it has been updated in 2019. Four pillars of the Finnish transition to a circular economy are:
Rethinking and rebuilding competitiveness. That means creating the solutions to add value and boost economic growth along with competitiveness. It’s expected to bring several billions of euros a year and create tens of thousands of jobs according to Sitra. The current race for a carbon-neutral world has turned into the fastest-growing market.
Low-carbon energy, that includes not only renewable energy but also sustainable low-carbon energy and the promotion of efficient use of energy.
Respect natural resources. A big part of greenhouse emissions is the development and processing of natural resources like metal ores or petroleum. It must be assured that materials return to the cycle again and again while more attention must be brought to reducing the harmful effects of production and resource management.
Everyday choices. Common action is required and expected from companies, universities, research centers, and legislators, although it’s not only up to the government and companies. Society’s mindset has to gradually change. We need to rethink ownership and consumerism. Instead of buy-and-keep in the best case (buy-and-throw away in the worse), thinking must shift towards sharing, repairing, maintaining, reusing. Many solutions are already taken to practice, but more work needs to be done.