What is a Circular Economy
A circular economy is an alternative to a traditional economy in which we Make Products, Use Products and Dispose Off Products. The circular economy encourages us to keep scarce resources in use for as long as possible and extract the maximum value from them. This might include buying a radio, using it for 30 or 40 years years regardless of fashion trends, size trends, peer pressures or general appearance upgrades. Great! It’s still a radio once it provides you the opportunity to listen to news, music or sport. Once it life is over for you, we think it should be offer for reuse or safely recycled so parts materials can be reuse. What do you think?
The European Commission has adopted an ambitious new Circular Economy Plan to help European businesses and consumers to make the transition to a stronger and more circular economy where our resources are used in a more sustainable way.
The proposed actions will contribute to “closing the loop” of product life-cycles through greater efforts to reduce, reused, re-purpose and recycle in order to bring benefits for both the environment and the economy.
Benefits for The Environment, Consumer, Public Authorities and Businesses include
- An increase in reuse and repair of products which will extend their longevity, provide consumers with financial gains and reduce waste.
- Improved durability and repair-ability of products which benefits to consumers pockets.
- Positive environmental impacts and improved enforcement of guarantees.
Can these benefits really happen?
Yes it can: But we do have to ask questions about electrical and electronic products with apparently shorter life cycles. Whether it’s electronic toys, computers, TV’s, hairdryers, tablet PC’s or mobile phones, most are used for shorter periods of times before they are replaced. This was the conclusion of a recent study carried out by the German Federal Environment Agency (UBA, February 2016)
The downside to having new and shiny electronic equipment is the vast consumption of valuable resources required to create them. The end to end production process or supply chain creates pollution in the form of greenhouse gases, e.g. extraction, manufacturing and transportation. The report calls for minimum requirements to be established for product life and quality, “a sort of minimum shelf life for electrical and electronic devices”.
Its not just shiny electronic, the number of large household appliances like cookers, washing machines, fridges and dishwashers that had to be replaced due to a fault within the first five years after purchase also increased, from 3.5% in 2004 to 8.3% in 2013, according to the study carried out by the Öko Institute in Freiburg, Germany . This study was carried out in conjunction by with the University of Bonn.
The Future – Repair-Friendly Design
The president of the German Federal Environment Agency (UBA), Maria Krautzberger suggested that the capacity to repair the device should be facilitated by repair-friendly design and the making available of spare parts to non-manufacturers and other third parties. A second suggestion stated, that products have a recommended life span as product price is not a good indicator of reliability yet consumer who pay more expect a longer life span.
The drive to recycle our products and reduce factors such as climate change is one of the main aims of the European Commission’s circular economy package, which is intended to increase recycling levels and tighten rules on incineration and landfill.
The whole industry requires better regulation and greater flexibility which will allow for ease of reuse and recycling. This can lead to increased employment opportunities in the repair and maintenance of electrical and electronic equipment leading to a longer life and recycling pushed further down the road.
Between 2012 and 2018, 4 million jobs were linked to the circular economy in the EU, a growth of grew 5%. The circular economy can be expected to have a positive effect on job creation provided workers acquire the skills required by the green business. The potential of social economy organisations is like Recycle IT and others looks good once people grip the real value of offering their old stuff for reuse and recycling.
Arranging and preparing for re-use and recycling of waste in the EU will be enhanced by a thorough review of EU rules on waste shipments. A review will will look at restricting exports of waste items that have harmful environmental and health impacts in third countries or can be treated domestically within the EU. There will be a focus on countries of destination, problematic waste streams, types of waste operations that are source of concern, and enforcement to counteract illegal shipments. (Source: EU Circular Economy Action Plan).
Recycle IT is an award-winning not for profit social enterprise providing a collection and drop off service for all types of waste electrical, electronic and metal items. During the last 18 months Recycle IT offered drop-off and collection services to homes, charities, schools and business organisations of all types across Dublin and surrounding areas.
Our recycling teams operate across Dublin and surrounding areas collecting electrical appliances which are old, damage and/or beyond repair. Items can include dishwashers, cookers, fridges, washing machines, computers, cables, monitors, microwaves, screens and much more.
Our electrical community collection service is provided in partnership with WEEE Ireland. Recycle IT are supported by Pobal, South Dublin County Council and authorized by the National Waste Collection Permit Office and the local authorities across Leinster.