Due to the increasing population and consumption of materials, there has been an increase in the exhaustion of global resources. Therefore, it’s very crucial to develop circular systems to utilize these assets. There is a need to promote the circular economy.
What is a circular economy?
The circular economy is the way to maintain the value of products and materials for as long as possible. It can be done through minimization of waste and resources and resourcing a product that has reached the end of its life to create further value.
It is a systematic approach designed to benefit society, businesses, and the environment.
Linear economy vs circular economy.
The difference between linear economy and circular economy rises in the fundamentals. A linear economy is the practice of mining raw materials and processing them into products, which are thrown away after use. In a circular economy, these products are recycled up until their exemption period. It changes the way value is created and preserved, and it is a better concept to produce more sustainable products.
Why is moving towards a circular economy important?
Shifting towards a circular economy is crucial for both supply security and environmental perspectives. It provides a foundation for a sustainable and competitive economy. Establishing a circular economy with improved waste management helps address the issue of microplastics in the environment. The main objective of the circular economy is to make economic systems and industrial processes more sustainable and environmentally friendly.
Benefits of a circular economy through recycling:
• It promotes waste management infrastructure in India and prevents waste from being generated and reduces hazardous components.
• Increases the value of the material circulating in the economy.
• Promotes plastic recycling and minimizes material consumption such as virgin materials, waste streams, and hazardous substances.
Let's look at each of the advantages of switching to a circular economy in detail.
- Plastic recycling
Plastic comes with many benefits. But, there are also some products in the market that need to be eliminated to initiate a circular economy and plastic packaging is one of them.
Although it is not possible to recycle all plastic present in the environment, some steps can be taken to reduce the need for single-use plastic packaging. For instance, making sure that the plastics we need are reusable, comfortable, and recyclable. Setting up effective collection infrastructure does separate the plastic items used and not used in the environment.
The vision for plastic recycling has been very clear. It involves the elimination of problematic or unnecessary plastic packaging through various methods such as redesigning and innovation. It also includes the use of plastic fully decoupled from the consumption of finite resources. Producing plastic packaging free of hazardous chemicals is also a crucial step to control plastic packaging.
- Waste management
The amount of waste is rising in India very rapidly. Less than 10% of the raw materials consumed are currently recycled. Therefore, concepts for resource and climate-friendly waste management infrastructure in India and circular economy should be practiced and their promotion should be implemented. Many projects have been initiated under which, the approach is to reduce the amount of plastic and other waste that enters the oceans and promote and encourage other partner countries to implement measures as well.
In many partner countries, the government is implementing training and advisory measures to create environment-friendly value change for electronic waste.
- Recycling what can be recycled
To shift towards a circular economy, it is important to recycle products that can be easily recycled. Recyclable materials such as steel, aluminum cans, PET plastic bottles, newspapers, and many other products can create a positive effect on the environment.
A circular economy is restorative and regenerative, which means that materials constantly from around a closed ‘loop system' rather than just being used once. That’s why recyclable materials produce an added advantage to society moving towards a circular economy.
- Solid waste management
Solid waste management refers to the process of collecting and treating solid wastes. Also includes recycling items that do not come in the category of garbage or trash. If solid waste is disposed of improperly, it can create unsanitary conditions, which can lead to pollution and outbreaks of vector-borne diseases.
Hence, the practice of solid waste management should be embraced by every household and business owner. It is an important step towards making our surroundings convert into a circular economy. There are also solid waste management services that have initiated towards making the earth a better place to live.
There are many practices that can be applied to make India convert towards a circular economy. Objectives such as turning solid waste into a resource and as a source of energy can also help in creating a circular economy. However, the main objective remains the same. It is to recycle more in order to have more waste, which can be used as a resource. Recycling is a prerequisite for a circular economy.