Developing a Sustainable Product
"Waste to Wealth"
Written by Moran Avraham (Translated to English)
A circular economy is an environmental management approach.
In order to understand what a circular economy is, we will begin with understanding the concept of a linear economy. For many years the economy has been a linear economy, where factories use large amounts of energy, raw materials and environmental resources in order to produce consumer goods. The consumers use the product and then dispose of it. This behavior pattern is known as the “take make dispose” pattern. This model is not a sustainable model, for two main reasons. The first one is that the use of resources is larger than the rate in which they are being replenished, and therefore some of the resources are used up and are no longer available to us. This causes demand that is larger than the supply, which leads to an increase in prices. Now the manufacturer is required to pay the “real” price for the use of the resource, and the economic profitability is lowered. The second reason in this matter is the effect of the linear model on waste production and waste treatment, by all accounts a critical environmental issue. If we are to ensure a sufficient supply of raw materials for the various needs of the growing global population on the future (food, shelter, heat and other needs), we are to move towards a circular economy. Environmental consulting greatly assists in the transition to a circular economy, by characterizing the needs of the customer and providing unique and individual solutions.
The circular economy is a renewing and restorative industrial (management) system that has an overall view of the current production, sales and consumption processes, and tries to minimize the negative environmental effects of the process as much as possible. A few examples of this are industrial waste and industrial wastewater that require treatment at the end of the process. The circular economy comes in place of the “end of life” concept by using resources in an efficient manner, transition to renewable energy, and avoiding and/or minimizing the use of toxic chemicals that cause environmental pollution and cannot be returned to the ecological system- biosphere. The purpose of a circular economy is to avoid producing waste using product design, efficient use of the product’s components and upcycling, optimizing of the system, and the use of business models. We must remember that without economic efficiency that yields economic profit- no economy could continue existing. The right environmental consulting is able to combine the regulatory requirements with the most efficient and economic solutions for the customer.
Let us examine the basic principles of the circular economy.
The core principle of the circular economy is that there is no waste, wastewater or emissions. In the circular economy, the resources, the product and its components stay inside the “closed loop” and aren’t wasted. The industry produces and designs products optimally, so that most of the product can be taken apart and reused. There is a preference for materials and/or resources that can be returned to the biosphere without treatment, without creating more waste, and that reduce energy use. Furthermore, this method sees the person as a “user” and not as a “consumer”. Therefore the products are of higher quality and performance levels, so that they can be rented, loaned, and used for longer periods of time. When use of these products is complete, we can reuse the materials they are made of.
Another principle is “the power of the inner circle”, which means reducing the use of materials that require a large amount of energy and resources in order to make them usable for the process.
The Sutok Company promotes the “Waste to Resource” idea in various projects.
“The power of circling longer” refers to maximizing the number of continuous circles that the product can undergo, in order to avoid the use of extra energy, materials, manpower, and other resources required in manufacturing a new product. For example: reuse, repairs, etc. The treatment and even purification of wastewater can greatly minimize the resources needed in the manufacturing process, for example, treating the wastewater so that it can be reused in the manufacturing process.
The power of cascade use- maximizing the number of stages in which the product is used. For example: a shirt can be sold to another person as a secondhand clothing piece. At the end of the use it can be sold for wool production, as a pillow filler, etc.
The power of pure inputs- regards the use of materials in their original form (without changes, additions, and impurities). This helps preserve the products’ high quality, which is expressed in higher durability, longer shelf life and also necessarily higher efficiency.
The subject is much wider, but we will conclude by saying that the circular economy challenges the conduct and thinking patterns of the current companies in the market. The sooner we start using this model, the sooner we can start seeing the positive effects that are part of the intelligent and sustainable use of resources over time.
Sutok is a company that offers environmental guidance and counseling for industries of all sizes. Sutok’s team of experts has plenty of experience in accommodating the work and management processes in the organization to a circular economy model, minimizing waste and turning it into a resource. During the work process, we give various solutions for continuous improvement of work processes while transitioning to a circular economy, minimizing waste and offering environmental solutions to maximize savings and efficiency. We have a wide collaboration with many companies in the industry, and we offer environmental solutions and cost reductions for the customer.
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