The linear economy is straight-line thinking. It’s the idea of making a box, using it, and then sending it to landfill. It is one straight process from beginning to end.
Conversely, a circular economy is one where it’s not a start-to-finish process but is a continuous cycle. Instead of your box going to landfill, companies recycle it into something else – like another box! Then it’s used again. So why are we moving away from the linear economy and towards a circular economy
To move away from landfill
It doesn’t take an environmental scientist to understand why burying our rubbish just buries our problems. Waste buried in landfill can sit there for years. All the oxygen escapes as it’s compacted over time. As a consequence, the microbes that remain are anaerobic. They release methane. Methane is one of the most potent greenhouse gases. It contributes to the unnatural warming of our planet. Therefore, if we don’t stop burying our rubbish and start making something useful out of it – we’ll only contribute further to the climate crisis!
To save money
You can save money by reusing old materials rather than manufacturing new ones. For example, you can take a box and process it into a brand new box. This reduced or completely irradicates the need for landfill. In addition to this, you don’t need to have new materials. This reduces pressure on the land to grow trees for cardboard.
You can also use waste to create energy instead of landfilling. Because we will always have waste – it’s basically renewable! For example, burning non-biodegradable waste can heat water to produce steam that can turn a turbine — turning the turbine results in the generation of power. This saves money on energy and landfill.
There is a standard to set
By adopting the circular economy approach, it sets the example for the rest of the world. The UK should work out a reliable and sustainable approach to manufacturing goods. Then this can be the template to follow anywhere else. After all, the environment does not adhere to human boundaries – it’s all connected! We need the world to pull together.
It doesn’t cover every stage
A bonus of the circular economy over the linear one is that it improves every stage of the process. It considers the implications of travel, packaging, and other qualities that are inefficient.
Packaging can be a great example of this. By using clever packaging, recycling is made so much easier. It only uses the necessary resources, and it reduces the cost of transporting goods. Smart packaging that reduces the amount of empty space inside makes delivering items more efficient. Wasted space is a waste of fuel. Therefore, getting the right sized packaging is important. Thinking about these elements help the circular economy knit together.
It’s not sustainable
The definition of sustainable development is ‘meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability for the future to meet their needs.’ By making products only to bury them in the ground, it’s a huge waste of resources. Considering that most resources used to manufacture goods come from a finite resource, we cannot go on using the linear economy.
For example, plastic is made from oil. We are using oil at a phenomenal rate. It’s likely that we only have around 50 years of oil production left until we run out. Oil is formed from the decaying bodies of animals being compressed over 100’s of millions of years. Definitely not something we can wait for!
In addition to this, on the grand scheme of things, England is relatively small. We’re not going to have the room for new rubbish tips. Therefore, it’s not sustainable to keep doing so. Not only this, but when you fill up an area with rubbish, you cannot build on top. It likely to compact over time and the dip which is not stable. And I’m sure you’d agree you’d prefer not to live on top of a rubbish tip!
It’s time to improve the efficiency and move away from the linear economy
We need to start considering each stage of the production of our goods. When we start to see where there are significant inefficiencies and waste, we will see an increase in productivity. Not only this, but it will boost the investment in technology that will perform these changes. This also links to the increase in the number of jobs in the industry. The more brains involved in solving the global issue, the closer we’re likely to get to a fully circular economy.
Do you still have questions about how packaging can be part of your circular economy? Contact us today for more information.