Linear, Recycling, and Circular Economy

Indri here from THINK-Research Team.

I hope you are doing well wherever you are :)


As I wrote in the title, I want to share the concept of linear, recycling, and circular economy. You might hear it in many events these days.


In su-re.co we have a daily quiz. This quiz will ask relevant questions related to blogs of su-re.co CEO (Tak). Last week, there was a question asking about what kind of business will dominate the market in the future (refer to climate change conditions). I answered two things: batteries and building/stuff materials from waste.


I answered those things since the electric vehicle will be used in most places, and waste management will be used as a standard in all sectors. There are some blogs on this website about fast fashion (https://www.su-re.co/post/what-is-wrong-with-fast-fashion), circular economy in Japan (https://www.su-re.co/post/circular-economy-in-edo-period-japan), and circular economy in achieving SDG12 (https://www.su-re.co/post/sdgs-subscription-circular-economy-and-sharing-economy-are-for-profit-and-contributing-sdgs12). You can read those blogs after or before reading my blog ^^



(Government of the Netherland, 2021)


Before I write about the concept of linear, recycling, and circular economy in waste management, I recommend you read my other blog about integrated waste management (https://www.su-re.co/post/waste-management-strategies-for-achieving-sdgs). As you see in the picture above, we use raw materials that we process into a product that will be thrown away after use in a linear economy. For example, we produce cotton for our dress; we throw it after wearing it for 5 years. Commonly, in the linear economy, we produce large quantities of cheap, easily accessible materials and energy. This business model that focuses on a take-make-use-waste approach has been used for many years ago. This approach essentially takes raw materials, uses them to create products and once those products are no longer used, they throw them.

(@the_plasticfree_people)


The environmental impact of the linear business model is significant. The World Bank estimates that global natural resources are decreasing by 45% each year. After these raw materials are explored from the earth, they go to the landfills as waste and negatively impact the environment (e.g. water, air, and soil pollution and contamination). According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), landfill gas alone accounts for about 15% of all U.S. methane emissions (Temarry, 2021).


As a transition, we have a recycling business model. After producing and using products, we can recycle them and make them as new products. Then, we throw them as waste. In this business model, materials are recycled. For example, waste glass is used to make new glass, and waste paper is used to make new paper (Government of the NL, 2021).


Furthermore, in a circular economy, we close all these raw materials (make them circulate). Closing these cycles requires much more than just recycling (or need more than one action). This business model will change how value is created and preserved, how production is processed more sustainable and which business model is used (Kenniskaarten, 2021). For example, we take fish from the ocean; then we process it for our meal. The waste from fresh fish can be used for BSF (black soldier flies) cultivation, and the waste from fried fish can be used as animal feed. We can use all parts of the fish to produce collagen, ketchup, and oil. After producing animal feed, we will have cattle manure. Then, we can use it as a biogas feedstock and produce organic fertilizer. We will improve soil carbon materials and soil fertility.


So, my question is, do you have a specific example of products transition from linear to circular business models?


Thank you for reading :D

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