What is the circular economy? – EntreYouth Project

What is the circular economy?

Source: SCA

Circular economy is an economic system which tries to minimize waste and maximize resource use, focusing on creating a materials and energy closed cycle rather than a linear model of „extract, produce, consume and dispose”. Circular economy pillars are: waste reduction, reuse, repair, recycling and biodegradation.

How can we reduce waste?

There are several ways to reduce waste:

  1. Reduce consumption: choose products with less packaging, reuse rather than throw away and only buy what you need.
  2. Recycle: separate and recycle materials instead of throwing away.
  3. Compost: turn organic waste into compost instead of sending it to landfill.
  4. Reuse: using products instead of throwing away and replacing them with new ones.
  5. Repair: fixing rather than discarding products when they break or no longer work.

These individual actions can help create a society with a smaller and more sustainable waste footprint.

How can we reuse products?

There are several ways to reuse products:

  • Repair products instead of throwing away and replacing them with new ones when they no longer work.
  • Donate products that are no longer in use to non-profit organizations or people who can use them.
  • Participate in product exchange programmes to give a second life to products that are no longer in use.
  • Upcycling or transforming old or unneeded products into useful new products.
  • Creative reuse, look for new ways to use products, like reusing containers for food storage or using empty bottles as flower pots.

All these actions can help to extend the useful life of products and reduce the amount of waste generated.

What forms of recycling do we use today?

There are various forms of recycling, including:

  • Mechanical recycling: a process where materials are separated and cleaned to be processed and transformed into new products.
  • Chemical recycling: a process where materials are broken down and transformed into their basic components to be used in the manufacture of new products.
  • Biological recycling: a process where organic waste is broken down by microorganisms to produce compost.
  • Energy recycling: a process where waste is burned to generate energy.

These processes can help conserve natural resources and reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill. It’s important to keep in mind that some materials are more suitable for a particular type of recycling and always it should be a part of a wider circular economy approach.

Why do we need to recycle?

There are several reasons why it’s important to recycle:

  1. Saving natural resources: recycling allows materials to be reused instead of extracting new resources from nature, which helps to preserve natural resources.
  2. Waste reduction: Recycling helps reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill, which can help reduce the carbon footprint and protect the environment.
  3. Job creation: The recycling and waste management sector can create jobs and strengthen the local economy.
  4. Energy savings: recycling can require less energy than producing new products from virgin materials.
  5. Environmental protection: recycling can help reduce pollution and protect the environment by reducing the amount of waste that decomposes in landfills and releases greenhouse gasses.

Overall, recycling is an important part of the circular economy and can help build a more sustainable future for generations to come.

What is biodegradation?

Biodegradation is the natural process where microorganisms, like bacteria and fungi, break down organic materials into simpler compounds. These compounds can be reused by microorganisms as a source of energy and nutrients, and are eventually transformed into carbon dioxide, water and other simple compounds.

Biodegradation is a fundamental process in ecosystems and helps maintain a natural balance in nature. However, when organic waste accumulates in large quantities in landfills, it can release toxic gasses and contribute to air and water pollution.

Biodegradation is an important process in biological recycling, where organic waste is broken down to produce compost, a valuable product that can be used in agriculture and horticulture. This reduces the amount of waste sent to landfill and promotes a more closed cycle of matter in nature.

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