Sustainable in a Circular World. The world needs to move from grey to green, fueled by design techniques that are sustainable in a circular economy. Sustainability intentionally maximizes the environmental, social, governance, and digital actions to fully engage it.
Between 2015 and 2017, globally extracted resources increased from 84 billion to 92 billion metric tons, while the total amount of waste generated grew from 19 billion to 32 billion metric tons. There is a big opportunity for circular to help us move from grey to green. But what does this look like in places like Africa? A recent report from the African Circular Economy Alliance and the World Economic Forum uncovers the “Five Big Bets for the Circular Economy in Africa.”
The report shows these five big bets include food systems, packaging, the built environment, electronics, and fashion and textiles. The big takeaway here is the opportunity to address issues such as poverty, poor infrastructure, and unemployment, and to rebuild in a way that is green and resilient. With the right circular strategies, it can help transition Africa to a modern infrastructure.
Circular is a topic I cover in my book Sustainable in a Circular World in depth—and I touch on it from a global perspective as well. Here is an excerpt from the book.
Countries need to have roadmap. Countries need to have a clear strategy established for achieving goals by a set date. The more things change it becomes time to walk the talk.
It’s the who, what, how, when, where, and why of going circular that needs to be addressed. To date, we have seen countries like Finland and France make a strong commitment to a circular effort.
The European Community supports the value of a circular economy. In fact, it adopted the principles of the package in 2014 in an effort to encourage member states to establish a clear roadmap for success. Since that time only a few states have been able to move forward. Many have talked about wanting to go circular, but each are at different stages of the process.
The Netherlands has pledged to go fully circular by 2050, and still has much work to reach it goals. It started the journey even before the EU showed support for any kind of resource management programs.
London has a circular plan, which originally had a route map ending in 2036. It has since been adjusted with the end point for the London Plan now slated for 2041. Finland jumped on board in 2016 and has a roadmap for 2026 that has been updated to 2030 to include striving to cut its carbon footprint in half from the level of 2010. France and Slovenia have also published strategies and Italy is working on one. Germany has indicated it is engaged in the circularity process.
Whatever each country does most likely will not be consistent in the United States. Each country follows their own public procurement rules about what is considered a circular product and services. Coordination by countries will create greater opportunities of course, but we can all agree, there will also be many missed opportunities.
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My mission is communicating and getting everyone on the same page and understanding sustainability from angles.
The world needs to move from grey to green, fueled by design techniques that are sustainable in a circular economy.