Girl Planting seeds

Why we'll still need waste in a circular economy

Every year, we buy 30 billion tonnes of stuff, from pizza boxes to family homes. We throw out or demolish 13 billion tonnes of it as waste—about 2 tonnes per person. A third of what we discard was bought the same year. The extraction, use and discarding of so much stuff create a large environmental burden, from the depletion of minerals to the destruction of rainforests. The idea of a circular economy aims to address these problems by rejecting the take-make-dispose model of production and consumption that governs our world. Instead, waste is "designed out" and materials are kept at a high value for longer through reuse, repair, and recycling. Unfortunately, some wastes are an inevitable result of growing or making things, and even durable products such as cars, toasters, and smartphones eventually break down or become useless. So how should we deal with it? In a recent paper, we argue for a legal requirement to recognize the potential for this waste to be used again. Read more...




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