Britain is currently trying to recover from a historic breakup with the EU, entering into the single market, much like Brad and Angelina or Sonny and Cher. Feelings of bewilderment, uncertainty and sadness overwhelm much of the UK, as we try to figure out how to move on. Although the UK is single and not ready to mingle, planet Earth has been longing to flirt with new possibilities.
As a result of being stuck in a toxic relationship with a linear economy, the world is swamped by waste, pollution and a depletion in natural resources. Today’s manufacturing involves taking raw materials and processing them into products that are then thrown away after use, all contributing to a carbon footprint for environmental degradation. With this economic relationship on the rocks and a tub of Ben & Jerry’s chilling in the fridge in anticipation, the current paradigm of the lineal economic model could be coming to an end, as the world turns its attention to a better match. For decades, one approach to sustainable development has gained traction among economists, scientists, policy-makers, activists, businessmen and women. This approach is called the circular economy.
The aim of advancing into a circular economic system is to tap into the continual use of resources, reviving products and materials at the end of each service use, to minimize and streamline end resource waste. This regenerative approach represents our best chance of being able to consume comfortably and maintain our current lifestyles. As well as creating new opportunities for competitive growth, closing the loop will drive innovation and productivity in manufacturing processes, waste management and consumption patterns. Additionally, circularity will position the world to better address resource security and scarcity issues while protecting biodiversity. By implementing a supply chain like this, we will take positive steps towards decreasing our collective weight on the planet and increasing the life of our natural resources.
The circular economy sits on the pedestal of the triple bottom line, an infrastructure that boosts long-term resilience, creates business and economic opportunities and delivers societal and environmental benefits through technical and biological cycles. However, in order for this model to reach prominence and implementation, a systemic shift in attitude needs to happen. We need to realise the toxicity of our current economic system because if we don’t, there won’t be “plenty more fish in the sea”.