What exactly does a sustainable circular economy mean? A sustainable circular economy refers to designing and promoting products that last and that can be reused, repaired and remanufactured. A sustainable circular economy sees to it that the functional value of products is retained as opposed to just recovering the energy or materials they contain and continuously making new products. A circular economy breaks the model of the linear economy, based on a take-make-consume-throw away pattern by proposing to transform waste into recycled raw material.
The manufacturing sector has one of the biggest roles to play towards promoting the world’s effort to save itself and achieve the United Nations Sustainability Goals. All manufacturers should join the sustainable circular economy bandwagon as the circular economy model fits directly into the more general framework of sustainable development. The manufacturing industry should produce goods and services in a sustainable way by limiting the consumption and the waste of resources such as raw materials, water and energy as well as the production of waste.
There are certain actions and principles that the manufacturing industry can do to ensure sustainable development. Truly taking part in a circular economy means utilizing renewable materials in your means of production in a bid to reduce imbalances when it comes to sustainable practices. The manufacturing industry should start by reducing wastes and capitalizing on efficiency. The principles include:
- Sustainable procurement
The manufacturing sector should ensure that they have within the business a responsible purchasing policy.
- Industrial and territorial economy
Manufacturing industries should work together to ensure eco-industrial synergies so that one’s waste becomes the resources of another.
The manufacturing industries should focus on treatment and recovery of materials contained in collected waste.
- Extended duration of use
This can be done through repairing, reusing and repurposing materials used in the industry.
- Responsible consumption
Manufacturing industries need to consider material consumption and choice of products according to social and ecological criteria
Further than these principles, manufacturing companies should consider eco designs such as the process of reducing the environmental impacts of a product or service throughout its life cycle. The industry should consider providing green renovation and upgrade of buildings by improving building materials and recycling infrastructure. Industries should provide alternatives such as alternatives to plastic to improve the recycling infrastructure.
What about investments? Investors should look to investing and promoting a circular economy in the following ways:
- Supporting innovation around the circular economy
- Investing in green bonds which are fixed income instruments designed specifically to support specific climate related or environmental projects.
- Investing in funds and strategies that prioritize ESG factors.
- Investing in the scaling up of sustainable products/services.
All in all, the manufacturing industry should recommit to regenerating the environment so as to broaden the environmental quality, human well-being and economic prosperity for current and future generations.