In June of 2019, the Sustainable Futures committee explored the topic of Circular Economy.
Companies have traditionally participated in a linear production chains, in which resources are gathered, made into a product that is used by the consumer and thrown away. The concept of a circular economy does not let a product go to waste after consumer use, but to be remade as another consumer good. A product that can be broken down into its raw components may serve as the raw resources needed to start multiple other product chains.
For a circular economy to succeed, companies must begin to share resources, products, and transportation streams. A large pool of resources will open up the possibility to create new products from the pieces of used products. Sourcing materials from this pool is financially beneficial for companies compared to extracting these raw resources from the earth and its depleting deposits. Companies sharing transportation and reclamation programs will also see efficiency and cost savings.
Creating the right product is also an important factor of participating in the Circular Economy. Durability and reuse should be guiding factors during product design. If just a small piece of a larger product is damaged or outdated, the whole product need not be thrown away. The damaged piece may be broken down and used in a new product stream, an outdated piece may be sold for reuse in the consumer market.
A circular economy provides a sustainable approach to product design, manufacturing, and distribution. The benefits only grow as companies join in and expand the economy.