How You Can Support a Circular Economy
With the world’s population topping 7 billion this year, there’s a growing concern amongst businesses and governments that certain valuable resources may eventually become scarce due to increasing global demand. It’s estimated, for instance, that by 2025, 1.8 billion people will live in regions afflicted by water scarcity. If current consumption rates hold, it’s estimated that global oil reserves will only hold out for another 46.2 years. Researchers with the Global Phosphorous Research Initiative believe that the current global supply of phosphorus — a critical ingredient for fertilizers — may run out in the next 50 to 100 years.
In order to conserve resources, it’s absolutely critical that organizations both large and small promote circular economic practices, such as sustainability, resource conservation and environmental stewardship. Here are a few tips from the Harvard Business Review on how small businesses can practice circular economic principles.
Closed-loop recycling involves reusing materials — like glass, steel or aluminum — that can be recycled repeatedly. Dell, for example, has developed methods that protect certain plastics from deteriorating, which allows the company to reuse plastics in the manufacturing of computer parts — this has helped Dell save money and reduce carbon emissions by 11 percent. HBR also advises businesses to consider exploring the “rental economy.” Currently, many consumers prefer to rent or lease items instead of buying them — streaming versus buying music fits this model well. Consumers end up saving money, and companies still retain ownership of the product. So, when the product is no longer usable, they can recycle or re-engineer the item, preventing the consumer from simply tossing the item once they’re done with it.
Lastly, HBR also recommends that companies consider “remanufacturing” certain goods in order to make them last longer. As an example, Fonebank, a smart phone distributor, purchases older smartphones and refurbishes them. Consumers can purchase decent phones at an affordable price, and Fonebank prevents valuable resources from ending up in a landfill. By implementing certain circular economic practices, a business can conserve resources in a financially viable manner. Crucial materials, like phosphorous or oil, are not infinite, and in order to conserve resources, businesses and governments must begin to invest in sustainable and circular economic practices. To learn more about the circular economy, click here.