Home/Is the circular economy the answer to achieving net-zero?
April 8, 2021

Fighting man-made climate change has become a major issue in the current environment, with scientific research predicting catastrophic weather events in the future if we don’t act now.

The number one method to halt and reverse climate change is to address our greenhouse emissions, which are directly linked to these weather events, and how we can limit our CO2 moving forward.

This has been addressed by the United Nations, resulting in the Paris Agreement which saw over 200 nations pledge to work towards a net-zero future by 2050. That means we need to reach a point where the planet is absorbing CO2 through its plants and trees at an equal or faster rate than we are pumping emissions into the atmosphere.

There have been many methods employed to achieve this, including adopting renewable energy sources, reducing our driving and dependence on fossil fuels, and environmental projects like planting more trees to vacuum up more carbon. But what is the circular economy, and how will it help?

Achieving carbon net-zero means changing our behaviours across the board

We live in a disposable world, and we have for some time. Humanity has become so accustomed to the pattern of purchasing, disposing and purchasing again. This has been a huge contributor not only to climate change but to catastrophic damage to our waterways and oceans from single-use plastic items, e-waste and other pollutants that won’t biodegrade in a short period of time.

Our culture means out of sight, out of mind. We throw things in the bin because they are useless and we never see them again. But landfills are filling up, ecosystems are being choked and we are pumping enormous amounts of pollution into the atmosphere to create these products all over again, then ship them to your supermarket or home.

Adopting a circular economy aims to shatter this culture. We know about recycling, and this has become more and more part of our daily lives, but a circular economy is about more than just recycling. It is about acknowledging that everything we use has a purpose and eliminating waste as much as we can.

We want to create a cycle where products are being manufactured, consumed or used, then recycled into the same product or another product – drastically reducing the resources used and the waste created.

This goes beyond just getting rid of plastic straws and bottles

A circular economy involves a total rethink on how we do business, how products are manufactured and how they are consumed. A large number of products are made to break, like mobile phones – which are simply upgraded every year, with the old ones disposed of.

This culture means moving towards an old-school model where we create items that are built to last and can be affordably repaired.

It is a huge undertaking because it requires a complete overhaul of business models towards corporate sustainability, cash flows, supply chains and more. But it is totally essential if we want to create a truly green planet.