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Circular economy, a topic beyond recycling :Circular economy and its idea was written in early 1966 in Kenneth Boulding’s book. In this book he explained that we should all be in a “rotational” production system. The circular economy then first appeared in 1988 in the economics of natural resources.

   environmentally eco friendly options

A circular economy is a model of production and consumption that involves sharing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing and recycling existing materials as much as possible.

The history of circular economy

Circular economy and its idea was written in early 1966 in Kenneth Boulding’s book. In this book he explained that we should all be in a “rotational” production system. The circular economy then first appeared in 1988 in the economics of natural resources. Soon after, this term was used by Pearce and Turner to describe an economic system in which waste is converted into inputs at the stages of extraction, production and consumption.

Since the early 2000s, China has integrated this concept into its industrial and environmental policies to make them resource-oriented, production-oriented, waste- and use-oriented, as well as life-cycle oriented. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation was instrumental in spreading this concept in Europe and the Americas. The European Union introduced its vision of circular economy in 2014. Then, in 2020, a circular economy action plan was launched, which shows the way to a competitive and neutral economy from climate change for empowered and intelligent consumers.

What is circular economy? Is everything recycled?

Circular economy is a model of production and consumption that includes sharing, renting, reusing, repairing, refurbishing and recycling existing materials and products as much as possible. In this way, the life cycle of products increases. In practice, it means reducing waste to a minimum. In other words, when products are made from materials that don’t end up in landfills or oceans for years. But more precisely, the circular economy deals with improving the end of life of a product and minimizing energy consumption.

When a product reaches the end of its life, its materials are kept as economically as possible. These can be productively used again and again, creating more value as a result. This is a deviation from the traditional and linear economic model, which is based on the pattern of “take – make – consume – throw away”. This model relies on large amounts of cheap and readily available materials and energy. Also, part of this model is based on the concept that the goods perish faster. In fact, when a product is designed to have a shorter lifespan, customers are encouraged to buy it again. The European Parliament has called for measures to counter this practice.

circular economy

This approach is contrary to the old approach of the linear economy, in which the production model is “use of raw materials, production and disposal”. Proponents of this idea believe that in a world where sustainability is defined in this way, the quality of life of consumers will not decrease in any way. They also claim that this idea will not incur additional costs for manufacturers. In this regard, in 2017, the British Standard Institute provided a framework for implementing the circular economy for organizations called BS 8001:2017. By means of this framework, business processes at the organizational level are coordinated with the principles of circular economy.

Principles of circular economy

The circular economy is based on three principles, which include the following:

     1- Eliminating waste and pollution

We have to accept the production of waste and the pollution caused by it as a defect before we start producing their by-products. By changing our mindset and using new materials and technology, we can ensure that waste is not created in the first place.

     2- Reuse of products and materials

We can design products for reuse, repair or remanufacturing. But keeping everything permanent is not the only solution. When it comes to products like food or added packaging, we need to be able to keep them in the reuse cycle, so they don’t end up in landfills.

     3- Nature restoration

There is no concept of waste in nature. Everything is food for something else. A leaf that falls from a tree feeds the forest. By returning nutrients to the soil and other systems, we can increase natural resources.

Of course, we have to consider the whole life cycle of a product and the whole system. If the production process requires a lot of fossil fuels or polluting chemicals, there is no point in creating something that can be used over and over again. And if there is no capacity to repair, reproduce or recycle an item after use, we cannot really call it a circular economy product.

4- Businesses and cyclical economy

Here are some success stories from companies that evaluate their products at various stages, from initial design to manufacturing and use.

Plastic-free and recyclable jackets from the Napapijri brand series

Most high-performance waterproof and insulating jackets are made from a combination of materials that are difficult to separate and recycle. To overcome this problem, the Italian clothing brand Napapijri has simplified its design. So that the whole coat – fabric, coating and decorations – is made of one polymer. This material is durable and high-performance, but also easily recycled.

This brand gives customers 20% discounts for their future purchases. In this way, customers return their worn clothes to be recycled.

     IKEA  home appliances

60 percent of Swedish furniture manufacturer IKEA is based on renewable materials. And more than 10% of them contain recycled materials. The goal is that its products are 100% compatible with the principles of circular economy. It means to use only renewable or recycled materials until 2030. The key to this strategy is for customers to use the brand’s products again. IKEA now offers spare parts to extend the life of the products.

     Everdrop plastic free cleaning products

Everdrop customers buy concentrated cleaning tablets and then mix them with tap water to make kitchen, bathroom and glass sprays. This business model reduces carbon dioxide emissions because there is no need to carry bulky containers full of liquid. Everdrop also reduces plastic waste by eliminating plastic in its reusable containers. Based in Germany, the company estimates it has eliminated more than 2.5 million single-use plastic bottles with its tablets.

     Manufacturers of vegetable dishes

According to the European waste hierarchy, biodegradable plastics can add value through organic recycling (e.g. industrial composting and anaerobic digestion) as an alternative option to reduce plastic waste and plastic pollution. Make. Biodegradable plastics help in efficient waste management and maintain a circular economy of resources.

Due to the increasing need of society and the world to use disposable containers for packaging, manufacturers of vegetable containers are increasing. Fortunately, plant-based disposable containers are produced in Iran. Among these, the Behizit brand produces one of the highest quality containers. All the products of this brand are sold at the cheapest price on the Eco Click site.

Recycling in the production industry

Recycling is beneficial in the manufacturing industry, especially in those sectors that require raw materials for production. Because the use of recycled materials reduces the cost of production and the final price of the product. The World Economic Forum estimated in 2014 that the use of recycled materials will reduce fluctuations in the international prices of raw materials and also reduce dependence on the import of raw materials. We assume that recycling means excessive use of energy and resources. In this case, recycling is only a partial solution. What we think are “recycled” are actually “down wheels”. For example, a plastic milk carton can never be recycled into another carton. Rather, it becomes a lower quality product such as plastic boards, which cannot be recycled again!

     Recycling problems

Apart from the above, recycling faces other problems:

– Less than 10% of recyclable plastic containers reach the recycling center. Because it depends on the behavioral patterns of customers. They should put their garbage in proper trash cans and not in garbage bags. In this way, the waste will be properly sent to the proper landfill for recycling.

Even if they reach the recycling facilities, the success of recycling depends on the capability and capacity of the existing facilities. Paper containers can damage recycling facilities due to their polyethylene coating.

– Deposit and Receipt System (DRC), which refers to a system in which customers pay a certain amount as a deposit for the price of the desired product at the time of purchase, and that specific amount is returned to the buyer at the time of delivery of the product. For single-use containers, it is only as good as an on-site recycling collection system. Increasing use of curbside recycling services, online shopping, and home delivery have created challenges for this system.

– Various governments and industries promote numerous efforts for maximum recycling. Some successes have also been achieved in this field. But the amount of collected materials required for recycling has not yet been obtained. Circular economy is actually an economy in which the technical part of the product is reused. And its biological sector increases the value of the agricultural sector with the help of renewable energy.

   environmentally eco friendly options

Eco-friendly products refer to products that do not harm the environment during the production, use and disposal process. In fact,  environmentally eco friendly products help to reduce pollution in the environment. In many advanced countries, they produce and sell  environmentally eco friendly products from recycled materials. These types of products all have an eco-friendly label so that they can be easily recognized. People still think that living an eco-friendly lifestyle is difficult. But in fact, there are many environmental products that can help people to easily reduce their waste volume and do less harm to the environment.

So, apart from drinking through plastic straws, use eco-friendly options like biodegradable and plant-based containers. Disposable vegetable containers are products that are biodegradable. These products do not harm the consumer and the environment. On the other hand, plastic products that are increasingly used by families cause an increasing number of problems caused by plastic waste.