Circular economy and environmental awareness
Kirjoittanut: Marcos Homar Heinonen - tiimistä SYNTRE.
The circular economy is a fast-growing term that can have a big impact on the way we live in the upcoming years. A circular economy means that we maximize the life span of both technical and biological materials by recycling them time after time to increase their lifecycle. When talking about biological products in a circular economy a great example could be a wooden house. If it is well maintained, it lasts for a long time keeping it in use for an extended period of time. After that, the wood can be used to make furniture taking it back in its lifecycle. From there it can be transformed into bio compost which makes it a great fertilizer for trees that later can be used to make new houses. Technical materials are easier to include in the circular economy as they are usually made to last. Metal pieces of a broken motor can be reused for the same purpose again or melted to make new parts. “We have to reimagine everything so that we can see how to maximize the lifespan of raw materials.” -Ellen McArthur
The circular economy system diagram:
The circular economy system diagram, Ellen McArthur foundation, 02.2019
In the technical cycle products, and materials are kept in circulation by processes like reuse, repair, manufacture, and recycling. In the biological cycle nutrients from the biodegradable materials are returned to the Earth to regenerate nature. Technical materials are all those materials that are made by humans. A mobile phone is mainly constructed with technical materials. That’s why it is very important to recycle an old mobile phone correctly so that those valuable materials can be reused. Many of the biggest electronic device manufacturers have made efforts on trying to use recycled material on their new devices.
Apples environmental goals 2022
Apple claims that 20% of the materials used in their production are recycled in 2021. This is the highest use of recycled content they have ever had. They are also committed to make all their product carbon-neutral by 2030. Apple has also decreased 75% on plastic usage in their packaging and by 2025 they want to eliminate it completely.
Apple.com, Goals, Environmental Progress Report, Covering fiscal year 2021
Apple is a company where the circular economy has been taken seriously. If the big companies would not do these kinds of ambitious goals toward a better future the change would not happen as these companies are leading the world of technology. When big companies show the way to go forward small companies are often forced to make the same moves to stay competent in the fast-moving industry.
This not only works for positive impacts but also for negative impacts. As Apple is understandably a company wanting to make the most profit possible. It tends to do some upsetting things to take the most out of its customers’ pockets. A good example of this is the movement towards non-modular products. Apple has switched towards non-upgradable and non-maintainable products from the modular and upgradable products they had before. These are cheaper to make and can be more compact than modular devices making them easier to ship. Apple also does not have to worry about manufacturing repair parts for all their devices or train their employees to repair the products. The main advantage is that Apple makes more money selling the newest products instead of selling repair parts to already existing devices. Doing this they also assure to give the customer the best user experience possible.
Apple celebrates its increasing percentage of recycled material, but the fact is that 60% of its e-waste ends up in landfills. The recyclable parts are sent to China as they allow minimum labor work which makes recycling not profitable in western countries. Apple´s power data centers are also said to be running on 100% renewable energy when it still gets all of its energy from Duke Energy which is a company that generates electricity by using coal, nuclear power, and natural gas. Apple pays companies that drive a fraction of its energy usage to renewable energy to “credit” their renewable consumption to Apple. This means that Apple exchanges some of that renewable energy with another company and gives some of the coal-powered data centers usages to the company in exchange. According to Fee stories, apple is not as green as it seems, 2017
The food industry’s impact on the environment
As it is said in many places small things make the real difference. Things that we would have never thought to make a huge impact on our environment are the things that make the biggest impact. Food is a major contributor to our carbon footprint and especially the red meat we consume is a big part of it. I watched the documentary Day Zero, USA, 2021, and these were some of the things that impacted me the most about the meat industry.
- 150 000 cows produce more excrement than the whole city of Denver with an estimated 750 000 habitats.
- Worlds 1,5 billion cows drink 5* more water than the whole world population
- One hamburger beef consumes 2 300 liters of water, and a regular stake consumes up to 3 700 liters
- The water to grow a full-grown cow is the equivalent of you taking a 10-minute-long shower for 130 years.
” IT IS NOT THE WATER WE DRINK IT IS THE WATER WE EAT”
A circular economy includes many things inside of it. This illustrates quite well all the things we should take into consideration if we want to live a sustainable life. The holiday trip once a year is not nearly as bad as eating meat regularly. We think about the holiday trip being worse than eating red meat as it is much easier for us to eliminate making a trip once a year than taking out a food source we use almost every day. We are selective and many times do the things that are the easiest for us without thinking about them more thoroughly. I also learned about companies like Apple regarding the circular economy and recycling specifically. Technology companies have wide reports about their activity and development. They still don’t talk about all the negative impacts their activity has on the environment which makes people that have not made their research think the company is ecological. The movement from modular to single-use products generates a lot of unnecessary waste which is purely done for the company’s benefit without thinking about the surrounding nature they say to care about more than ever before. The most important thing I learned while writing this essay is that circular economy and Eco logicality is such a broad topic that we all have something to learn from it. Now is the time to get people impacted by showing them raw videos about the catastrophe we are about to face if we don’t take immediate action. Teaching about the circular economy to populations that know nothing about it can ensure a brighter future for the generations to come.
Eller Macarthur foundation, circular economy introduction, 2022:
University of Helsinki, inventions for circular economy in the classroom, read 13.11:
Apple, Environmental Progress Report, 2022:
Yle Areena, Kun vesi loppuu, 27.1.2022:
FEE stories, Apple is not as green as it seems, David L. Veksler, 2017:
According to Fee stories, apple is not as green as it seems, 2017
Nice work Marcos! It showed that you really digged into the circular economy theme. Nice to see that you found out so many real life experiences.Very well explained in my opinion. I learned more about Apples strategies trough your essay. Good sources and well structured essay.