Renting out your car, selling second stuff etc. is part of the circular economy but there is more. Firstly, things from nature need to circulate – food waste goes to compost goes to soil goes to food- for example. And trees go to wood to waste wood to fibre board to fuel maybe. And things come from the earth, like metals and they are made into, say, raw iron, then steel, then a product, then scrap, then more steel, and so on.
Most people take a narrow view of the circular economy, seeing it as renting out your car, selling second stuff etc. All true, but there is more to it. Firstly, things from nature need to circulate – food waste goes to compost goes to soil goes to food- for example. And trees go to wood to waste wood to fibre board to fuel maybe. And things come from the earth, like metals and they are made into, say, raw iron, then steel, then a product, then scrap, then more steel, and so on.
But money needs to go round too. Forget government hoarding surplus – that only removes money from the economy. We need the workers to get good wages so they buy stuff from factories that make good profits that pay good taxes and wages and so it goes round.
Many people react to the idea of people spending more because they think business will extract some stuff and dump others and leave the earth exhausted and polluted. They will. Unless there are either strict laws or stiff fees to stop them. So the circular economy will make it very expensive to extract or dump. And that is where the first and last invoice come in. In the life of a material, be it iron or sand, for example, the first invoice (paying for extraction) is the start of a long chain of invoices that the circular economy continues as long as possible. It puts dumping or burning off – the last invoice – and delays it in time. And the economy is rigged to reward them.
This presentation comes from the “Future day” seminar arranged by waste handler Ragnsells.
It covers why phosphorus requires to be treated as a special case in the circular economy, indeed in a circular economy culture. And gives a few ideas how to do that – mentioning the acute need to do something about the Baltic Sea.
Stephen Hinton will represent the Swedish Sustainable Economy Foundation as panel member at the event:
Policies and tools for the bio-nutrient circular economy
Brussels, Wednesday 2nd December
The event will focus on proposals for actions for policies around waste disposal constraints, targets, CAP incentives, natural capital accounting, externalities, dynamic standards, fiscal tax shift etc
And cover topics such as
obstacles in regulation, application
innovation and value chain collaboration
changing economic imbalance between raw materials and recycling