Over the past few years, the circular economy has seen a significant increase in interest and continues gaining traction around the world. Last year, the concept of circular economy approaches advanced, particularly for plastics and packaging. The buzz around media coverage in the ocean plastics crisis has led both consumers and regulators to adapt to a new model to make the earth greener. Also, the continuously increasing global population that is putting vast pressure on our environment and natural resources has driven to the concept of a circular economy.
This is an economic system wherein no materials are wasted. Unlike the current linear economic system, in this model products are designed and built where they can reduce, reuse, and recycle or remanufacture.
The economic benefits of a circular economy are inevitable. For instance, when people leverage reclaimed parts in car manufacturing or make clothes from recycled textiles, they are clearly bolstering resource productivity. The shift to this model is not only driven by regulators or businesses, but also by people as they increasingly want to know what exactly is in the products they purchase. People also seek the product they are looking for whether it has another useful life beyond its first.
Why Collaboration is Key for a Circular Economy
In the world of complex trading relationships and supply chains, business and industry have been at the center of the circular economy spiral since the beginning. For manufacturers, this circular approach can only be achieved by engaging with others. So, there is a need for collaboration with or within not only private companies but also public and private entities. This will create out of the box thinking and pave more ways to contribute to a circular economy.
Recently, five companies including Ampacet Corporation, Esenttia S.A., Honeywell UOP, INDEVCO sal., and Red Avenue New Materials Group Co., Ltd. have joined the Alliance to End Plastic Waste, a global not-for-profit organization with a bold vision to end plastic waste in the environment. The alliance formed by nearly 30 major global companies, committing over US$1.0 billion, with the goal to invest US$1.5 billion over the next five years to develop, deploy and bring to scale solutions that will reduce and manage plastic waste and promote post-use solutions.
The group is also focused on innovation, infrastructure, education, and clean-up. The members of this alliance recognize they are uniquely positioned to innovate and design eco-friendly and sustainable products, contribute to the stronger infrastructure that can support single-use materials, as well as align their philanthropic dollars and community commitments to their sustainability journey.
One another group, NextGen Consortium, which aims to address single-use food packaging waste across the globe by advancing the design, commercialization, and recovery of food packaging alternatives.
Moreover, public awareness regarding the perils of plastic waste has always been higher. Several companies’ recycling commitments and governmental bans are also on the rise, even as China’s ban on U.S. recycled materials continues to echo across the industry.
Regulatory pressure is from governments also forcing businesses to change their approach. In July 2018, European leaders approved new waste reduction rules and gave member states two years to transpose these into national legislation. However, the year 2020 is the deadline for the members to hit the target of recycling or reusing at least 50 percent of municipal waste. Also, this is anticipated that the target will keep increasing in years to come.