E Co. bites: What is the circular economy and how is this adopted in projects that E Co. designs?
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Speaker: Mel Phadtare
Question: What is the circular economy and how is this adopted in projects that E Co. designs?
A circular economy is a regenerative system where resource inputs, and resource outputs such as waste, emissions and energy leakage are minimised by introducing a variety of material loops. These loops focus on building a product with an extended material life in mind. Longer-lasting design, repair, reuse, disassembly for remanufacturing and refurbishment, recycling and upcycling, are all examples of the variety of material loops which extend the life of materials.
This is in contrast to the linear model, the ‘take-make-waste’ production line which forms the basis of today’s economies around the world. In a linear model resources are extracted and disposed of in minimum time, often single use, by burying, burning or dumping into waterways while releasing toxins and greenhouse gases.
The benefit of transitioning to a circular economy is that it is more sustainable: socially in building inclusive societies around local economies, environmentally by extracting and polluting less, and economically through profitable business models focused on innovative products and services which maintain or improve quality of life.
So when it comes to projects that we design we look for opportunities aligned with greenhouse gas emissions reduction that also build in: systems thinking – such as industrial symbiosis, product life extension – such as product as a service systems, and recycling.
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