March-April 2020

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30 PalletCentral • March-April 2020 CIRCULAR ECONOMY RECYCLING By Jennifer Russell D epending on where you and your clients are based, the term "Circular Economy," maybe something you have heard more frequently. So, what is meant by "circular economy" and why should we care? More fundamentally, is this just another attempt at green-washing and eco-marketing? Interestingly (and what gives me hope for the future!), that doesn't seem to be the case. The circular economy is a framework that is gaining increasing interest and traction in countries around the world, and with policy-makers and industry-members alike. The concept is grounded in the long-standing discipline of industrial ecology and innovative ideas, including closed-loop systems, cradle-to-cradle, and biomimicry. All of these look to natural systems for inspiration on how we can design, operate, and sustain viable industrial and economic policies on which human society and well-being depend. The circular economy is built on three principles: 1) Design out waste and pollution; 2) Keep products and materials in-use (and for longer), and 3) Regenerate natural systems. Design is a central and critical aspect of a circular economy that empowers product developers and designers to think about the entire life cycle of the product – from the materials being used to make it, through to what happens when businesses and consumers no longer want it. Designing out waste and pollution means designing products that are made from safe, renewable, or easily recycled materials, and that can be easily disassembled for repair and recycling. For more durable and high-value products, Photos: Stephanie Jordan. Graphic:

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