“As explained in our triple bottom line video, the economy is part of society which is part of the environment.
Now, let’s look at the economy! We can split into two categories the things that we need to run into closed loops: technical and biological materials. Technical materials have this typical life cycle: raw materials are mined, the product is manufactured, then it is transported, then it is used until the end of its life. We often tend to think about the end of life and the importance of recycling and this is true. But for our economy to be circular, there are many things we can do before the end of life. It starts with using resources that are already extracted.
Two transition strategies can be very helpful as we are trying to create a circular economy: substitution and dematerialization.
Substitution is about using different resources to achieve the same goal. For instance, the world is running out of lithium so unless we can recycle lithium batteries more efficiently, Sodium-Ion batteries might be a better option for car manufacturers in the future.
Dematerialization refers to using less of a resource to serve the same economic function in society. For instance, Interface is the world’s largest designer and maker of commercial modular carpet. But they don’t sell the carpet anymore, their customers buy the service of having carpet on their floor. Interface is in charge of maintaining and repairing the carpet and they do that very efficiently because it is their specialty and they control the entire process. Using tiles, they can replace only the ones that need replacing. The old tiles go back to the factory to be recycled where new tiles are made with 98% recycled or bio-based content. How is that for almost circular?”