Circular economy is a solution to earth’s environmental problems

On 22 April 2016, Earth Day aims to protect the health and wellbeing of the world’s most vulnerable populations by decreasing climate change emissions and creating financial opportunities in the growing green economy.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2014 Climate Change report called for the unrestricted use of coal, oil and gas to be phased out by 2100. The report warns that the world would face “severe, pervasive and irreversible” damage from global warming unless action is taken to reduce record levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. China and the United States have already unveiled their new pledges and commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

There are many options available to cut emissions, including using energy more efficiently, switching to renewable energy sources and investing in large-scale afforestation. More importantly, there needs to be a fundamental shift in how nations address waste. If waste is recovered and recycled back into ‘new’ raw materials or used for energy efficiency, creating value in place of the costs associated with waste, then everyone benefits.

By looking at consumer products further than the end of their lifecycle, and re-introducing them back into the economy, we will go a long way towards reducing our reliance on natural resources for new product development.

Changing the world starts by changing your own little corner of it. The Chicago Plant is a great example of how the implementation of the circular economy model encourages the repurposing of items, otherwise regarded as waste, into something of value. This ground-breaking food production space, designed to be a net-zero building, has developed circular economies for food production, energy conservation and material reuse, while empowering people of all backgrounds to make their cities healthier and more efficient.

Interested in playing your role during Earth Day? Find more information for activities or ideas here.