Action: Transition to circular economy

Circular economy, and circular technologies are not a magic bullet, but they can help. To make large-scale transition from linear to circular technologies we need Technology and Good Moral.

The traditional linear extract->produce->use->dump material and energy flow model of the modern economic system is unsustainable. Circular economy emphasizes the reuse, remanufacturing, refurbishment, repair, cascading and upgrading of components, materials and even products. It also considers the utilization of solar, wind, biomass

and waste-derived energy. Ecological economics recognises that environment has both local to global limits. Ecological economists consider global issues such as carbon emissions, deforestation, overfishing and species extinctions. They also realize the conflict between short-term policy and long-term visions of sustainable societies \citep{korhonen18,nelson-coffey19}.

Linear technologies convert crude materials A to product P and waste substances B. In an ideal circular world, B should be converted to A to establish closed loop technologies.

We should turn now to review some examples of the circular solutions \citep{innovate}.

The significant step in each of these technologies to close the loop.

Clothing: from textile to fibers

As it was discussed in \ref{ssec:fastfashion}, the very linear model of the fast fashion industry persuades consumers to buy the latest styles. People living in the throw-away society don’t see any problem to dispose clothing bought a year ago, or so. Used clothes sent to landfill or burnt with the velocity as we do now certainly would be a significant component of a climate catastrophe. According to the Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association 95\% of textiles can be recycled, but 85\% ends up in landfills.

What are the options to avoid this scenario? We need Technology and Good Moral. While buying and selling clothes at the second-hand market reduces waste, but most likely it will be a main stream business model. There are now more textile recycling programs, maybe in your town, too, to materialize good moral.

As concerns technology, here is an encouraging example: the Spanish company $Recover^{TM}$ transform textile waste into low-impact, high-quality recycled cotton fiber. You can learn about the closed-loop technology from the video \citep{recover}.

From human waste to animal feed

Waste from humans and animals is still an everyday problem in lesser economically developed countries. Due to the lack of appropriate sewerage systems waste can reach rivers and lakes and leads to contaminated drinking water, which is an obvious source of serious diseases.

A lack of proper sewerage networks in ever expanding cities means waste can end up in rivers and streams and can end up contaminating drinking water leading to the spread of life threatening disease. It is not always simple to install well-operating sewer systems, since often it need a large amount of energy. A question emerged whether biology can offer some efficient solution? ”Black Soldier Flies Are The New Superstars Of Sustainable Aquaculture” reported Forbes in 2019 \citep{simka19}. The single most important fact about Black Soldier Flies (BSF) may be that in the larvae stage, they have the very efficient ability to transform that waste into high-quality protein. ow thy are used as protein additives in animal feed. Technology based on this recognition establishes an inexpensive, clean and sustainable food source. It is too early yo see whether the procedure can be scaled up, and will be eligible to approve by governmental agencies.

From paper industry waste to biodegradable plastics

Lignin is a very useful organic polymer molecule that forms the cell walls in trees and plants.

It is also a waste material of chemical pulping processes during the paper production, and a significant component of biomass. The conversion of wood chips to pulp for manufacturing paper generates huge quantities of lignin.

The good news is that lignin seems to be a substitute of petroleum-based plastics. It is not a useless byproduct, but a starting material to a closed loop technology. Together with its derivatives lignin can been converted into such recyclable products as bottles, shopping bags, straws, foams etc.

While the potential of lignin is known for decades, but the road to extended applications is not smooth. There are some problems to identify its structure, and there ongoing research to help the lignin-based technologies \citep{stumpf20}

From Plastics to Roads

Toby McCartney, the CEO of the British company MacRebur has the mission ”to help solve two world problems; to help solve the waste plastic epidemic, and to enhance the asphalt used to make our road surfaces around the world.”\citep{macreb, macrebur}. They adopted a technology to process waste plastics into asphalt for road construction. There is a secret element in the process, they use a ”specially designed activator” in addition to the waste plastic.

From plastic bottles to bricks

Material scientists elaborated the technology of converting plastic bottles to brick \citep{chauhan19} by identifying a set of potential additive materials, which imply the improved compressive strength of the bricks. Different versions of the technology are now adopted in a number of countries. For example, Gjenge Makers, a factory in Nairobi, Kenya, takes plastic waste and turns it into a brick that is five to seven times stronger than concrete.

The process was developed by Nzambi Matee, who used her engineering skills to develop the process that involved mixing plastic waste with sand. The cleaned and dried bottles are cut into pieces. The plastic is melted in a drum and sand is mixed with it form the bricks. \citep{nairobi}

The Ecobricking movement has emerged from a growing awareness of the scale of plastic pollution,

and appeared in many countries including the Philippines, India and South Africa, just to mention a few of them.

Utilizing the sharing economy

Sharing economy is related to circular economy, since both models’ goal is to reduce waste in society. Sharing economy looks a mean to improve our moral, accepting that we should not necessarily need to own things. We see that sharing economy business models are rapidly rising worldwide, and could consider them as seeds to the cultural changes mentioned in \ref{ssec:cultchange}. The basic idea is that every resource which is not utilized efficiently is waste. Cars are parked 95\% of the time \citep{morris16}, so they waste their manufacturing energy.

The throw-away society uses the model based on private propriety and a consumerist view of society. In the repair society Sharing Platforms are used extensively. In the Sharing Platform business is the company does not make or own any goods to share, just it provides a peer-to-peer (P2P) platform to connect people and unused products or services.

The transactions in the P2P networks happen through a digital platform that somehow regulates the bargaining between the parties.

Some examples of sharing platforms

– Ridesharing or carsharing: so you don’t need a car, and still can not rely on public transit

– Coworking: as now many people works in isolation, in home office, or in Starbucks shops, a great alternative is to share infrastructures, expenses. Also, it provides some community. My (P) son, Gábor, an individual contractor, uses almost daily the Kubik coworking space at the foot of the Margaret Bridge in Pest, just likes it very much.

– Couchsurfing and/or Airbnb: they are sharing alternatives to hotels. Couchsurfing was free for about fourteen years. It provided less privacy, but as a compensation if you were alone in a foreign city, you had people to talk to. Airbnb became a success story since simply it’s cheaper than staying at a hotel.

– Peer-to-peer lending: is an alternative method of financing. People are able to obtain loans directly from other individuals, without the participation of financial institutions. It is not clear whether or not it will be popular and the advantages will exceed the disadvantages..

”Goods and services access promoted by sharing business models are emerging in the place of older model based on private propriety and a consumerist view of society. This is strongly connected with circular economy strategies, particularly referred to waste prevention, reduction and resources valorisation” } \citep{sposato17}

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