11/01/2021

Circular Economy Explained: What does it mean and how do we close the loop?

Category: Blog, Planet
drop-of-water
A healthier, more circular economy depends on each and every one of us.

In nature there are no straight lines but as humans we have conceived the idea of linear for the purposes of simplifying our understanding of the world.

If we can learn anything from nature, it’s that she knows best and that the Earth is formed of many circles and closed loop systems – something we are now aiming to replicate through circular economies.

More recently industries have adopted linear mind-sets in order to grow fast, competitive business models that create value through manufacturing resources into services and goods that are largely disposable, often after a single use.

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation expresses this type of business structure through three simple pillars: „Take, Make, Waste“.

Over time this causes instability especially as industries rely heavily on natural resources that are finite and cannot be replaced at the speed they are taken.

One of the biggest and most unsustainable industries that fall into this type of structure is ‘Fast Fashion’ – an industry that does not replenish the many natural resources it requires to create, wastes much of what it overproduces and overuses toxic chemicals which are harmful to both the environment and human health.

Unless we can rethink and act in a more circular manner, a manner that is more in tune with nature, many industries will reach the end of the road soon as natural resources will run out.

Is the solution a Circular Economy?

A circular economy creates value through efficient and restorative resources that can be made and remade into products that have a continual use or recycled into future life cycles. It’s a multi-dimensional way of working towards better, more long-term success.

Blazing a trail in circular innovation, Napapijri has combined innovative technology, cutting-edge design, and sustainability with the launch of the Circular Series which started with the Circular Series jacket.

The Circular Series is 100% recyclable thanks to the mono-material composition. Fillings and trims are made of Nylon 6, while the fabric is made of ECONYL® Regenerated Nylon, a high-performance nylon 6 yarn recycled from discarded fishing nets and other waste materials.

This way of doing business is cleaner: it minimises waste, ecological impact and maximises the value of a product over a longer period of time, using fewer resources. If we can begin to ensure waste is regenerative, we can achieve greater circularity.

A circular economy requires a global rethink on how we create, produce, package and transport products. It requires us to reimagine our idea of design to involve multi-use products with infinite future life cycles that offer easy reuse and recycle incentives that both add value to business and user experiences.

How do we close the loop?

The only way we can truly achieve circularity is collaboratively and collectively.

To create the eco-system of a circular economy requires the foundation of better choices from all players along all value chains. Businesses should look at creating products through renewable multi-life cycle incentives that restore value and longevity at all stages of the value chain.

Infrastructures should seek to eliminate excessive waste, pollution and carbon emissions by rethinking new priorities from sourcing to end of life solutions.

It’s also important for all companies to reference and incentivise the 17 sustainable development goals put forward by the United Nations in practical terms and to ensure that all, not just some, of the milestones are addressed on an on-going basis.

Sustainability is not achieved in one area: it is circular and addressed through a multi-angle approach at all stages of the business value chain.

Sustainable development goals

Leading by example

Across all industries many businesses are becoming more sustainable, but all companies need to be part of the movement to truly achieve circularity: everybody counts in this movement.

Talk is becoming more frequent on moving to more green business, but action is slow. According to sources such as Circle Economy, only 9% of current business models are circular.

However, there are companies with serious intention to apply new methods and it’s not just fashion that is trying to reshape for the future. The automotive sector is placing huge importance on reformation and sustainability through greener solutions.

Mercedes Benz, Porsche, BMW and Renault have already moved to using eco-friendly materials for their car interiors including ECONYL® Regenerated Nylon.

What can we do?

Nobody is perfect, we have all bought into the digital age of influence and high street attitudes of buying more for less. Our mission now must be to try to get more out of less for longer, then we can start to move away from single-use behaviours and linear business models that are harmful to the environment.

A more minimal, circular way of living can optimise our human experience, and the future requires us to think more radically and responsibly. Through our purchase power we can also advocate for circular businesses and be part of the change.

The global pandemic, now stretching into 2021, has forced a moment of reset across all nations and industries. Whilst it is a challenging time, it is also an opportunity to rethink and rebuild into more sustainable ways of operating.

The virus is a stark awakening of what can happen when far off and worst-case scenarios become a reality. If we do not act now, we will pay later. If we think circular now, we can protect the future. There is hope.

 

Author: Elle L

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