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Innovative examples of circular economy

4 min. reading
Circular economy, Climate change, New Gen / 30 August, 2021

Karla García Gil Journalist

Every day more industries join the circular economy, which aims to contribute to the regeneration of natural systems, through the development of more sustainable products, there are several creative examples of this economic model.

The circular economy is a model that arises in contrast to the ‘linear economy’, which has taken the exploitation of natural resources to the limit. In this sense, the circular economy adds to the efforts to promote sustainable development.

According to the European Parliament, it is estimated that in the European Union alone, more than 2.5 billion tons of waste are produced each year, from both residential and business use.

The circular economy takes into account all the processes involved in the production of a product, from manufacturing to the choice of packaging material. This model seeks to reduce waste, as well as the waste of raw materials, water and energy.

Today, many industries in various sectors are involved in the circular economy, which is becoming increasingly popular. 

Innovation examples of circular economy

 

Advantages and disadvantages of the circular economy

Advantages and disadvantages of the circular economy

The circular economy brings multiple benefits to humanity, since it seeks to reduce the environmental impact of production processes through various actions that culminate in the reduction of waste and the burning of fossil fuels.

Textile industry

Many companies have ventured into the clothing rental market, which, although it has existed for many years, today has gained relevance, especially those companies that no longer reserve themselves to the strict rental of formal suits, but offer the customer a wide range of styles and designs, prevailing the highest quality, to ensure the durability of the garments.

The fashion industry is the second most polluting industry in the world, ahead of manufacturing, energy, transportation and food, according to data from the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

This sector uses 93 billion cubic meters of water annually and is responsible for 20% of total global water waste. Making a pair of jeans requires 7,500 liters of water, the equivalent of the amount the average person drinks in a seven-year period.

The industry produces more carbon emissions than all international air and ocean shipping combined, with consequences for climate change. Textile production emits 8% of greenhouse gases.

Restaurant industry

In view of the various environmental policies adopted by governments around the world, more and more restaurants are eliminating disposable containers (mainly plastic) and bags made of the same material from their supplies, opting instead for more environmentally friendly materials such as cardboard packaging, cloth bags and even recycled containers that once contained another product. Some stores are also using biodegradable and, in some cases, even edible plates, cups and straws.

One example is Guatemala City, which has adopted the sale of potato chips in banana leaves instead of in their traditional packaging.

Urban art

But when it comes to innovation and creativity, art is a must. In Mexico, a well-known brand of vodka had three murals designed with a special type of paint that is capable of filtering the air by reacting with sunlight. The project aims to eliminate the annual pollution emitted by 60,000 cars.

The Swiss-made paint mimics the process of photosynthesis to neutralize pollutants and produce clean oxygen; this has been used previously in the city of Rome when in 2018 a mural capable of reproducing the effect of 30 trees was unveiled.

Refillable bottles

Most liquids, both for personal hygiene and cleaning, are marketed in disposable plastic bottles, which causes a high level of contamination by plastic agents. It is estimated that the U.S. discards about 35 billion of these bottles each year.

Today, many manufacturers are producing reusable bottles, while their counterparts are producing loose liquids to refill these containers. The liquids can range from cleaning products to beverages for human consumption.

At home

There are many examples of circular economy to apply at home, from composting systems that use organic waste as fertilizer for plants to recycling inorganic waste.

Plastics, glass, cardboard, paper and aluminum can be taken to various collection and recycling centers that exist in each city, which often offer financial or in-kind retribution.

Barter networks

Bartering has existed since time immemorial and until a few years ago only a few towns preserved this practice; however, today it has gained momentum in big cities thanks to social networks and mobile applications, where we can find groups of people who exchange among themselves the goods they no longer need and even give them as gifts.

Bartering helps significantly to reduce waste and resource consumption, promotes the circular economy and household savings, which can be invested in other ways.

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