Prevention vs. Clean Up and A Circular Economy
As Ellen MacArthur explains a circular economy involves ‘every single player in the chain’ rethinking how they do things. That means brands, manufacturers, governments, waste disposal systems and consumers committing to as little waste as possible whilst putting the resources we use back into the economy as a pose to into the bin.
For example, instead of getting a new phone every two years and either throwing the old one away or selling it on, you would send your old handset back to the manufacturer. They get the raw materials back to put back into new models and you get a new handset, whilst nothing goes to waste. This can be applied to almost any industry and requires the commitment of everyone involved in the chain to make it work.
At the same time as this industry change, we require ingenious solutions to the existing problems. Ideas like the Plastic Bank alleviating poverty by creating fully functional shops that take waste plastic as currency in poor countries. This prevents plastic waste getting to landfill and into the oceans whilst giving poverty stricken countries and their populations a better quality of life.
Founder of ‘The Plastic Bank’ David Katz said in his TED Talk that ‘the very last thing we need to do is clean the ocean. He argued that without ‘turning off the tap’ and addressing the production of plastics our planet would be doomed to an abundance of plastic pollution. In contrast, The Ocean Clean Up are doing the opposite and working hard to reduce the amount of plastic in our oceans. Firmly of the belief that we must do whatever we can to reduce the impact we’ve had.
The different approaches of these two organization’s and the whole debate surrounding the best way to alleviate plastic pollution, is a good example of how a circular economy can be instigated in society. We need a healthy balance of both of these ideologies and approaches in every level of the chain; be that the consumer, the manufacturer, the innovators, government legislation and the way in which we go about reusing and recycling waste.
We need innovative clean up ideas as well as innovative reduction and recycling ideas throughout all different areas of society if we’re to look after our earth properly!