By: George Kurzom
Circular economy - commodity design, marketing, consumer, reuse, repair or recycling, recycling sector
Exclusive to Environment and Development Horizons (Afaq magazine):
A few years ago, some decision makers and many environmental activists in the world worked to change the approach to waste treatment, by calling it by other names.
Initially defined as an untapped resource, later treated as a major component of the circular economy.
The idea of the circular economy is essentially to keep as much waste as possible in the production cycle whether used as a raw material, or renewable product, rather than dumping it in a landfill.
Societies that care for their environment and work to develop it, have adopted the concept of a circular economy and integrated it into their waste management strategies, with the aim of shifting towards a circular economy in a specific period of time (20-25 years, for example).
In a circular economy, waste from one plant can be used as raw material in another plant. This way will lead to reduction in the raw material extraction.
From a sustainability perspective, the key issue is to reduce the overall consumption of raw materials, reduce the depletion of land resources and the destruction of natural habitats.
Germany is one of the most prominent European countries that have worked for a few years, to shift towards a circular economy model, which is characterized by a closed loop use of the consumed resources.
Instead of turning those resources into environmental pollutants, they are reused as raw materials or used among other things, to produce energy.
The design of products is also changing; It is supposed to be more energy saving and towards extending the life of the product. Eventually and according to this trend, the industry will save the quantities of raw materials, energy and water used, in addition to reducing the cost of pollution treatment methods.
If you take Germany as a leading role model in this, you would see that Germany has adopted a policy based on the use of green technology, thus preventing the emergence of pollution from the source. This is a shift from the previous policy of treating pollution from its facilities, factories and vehicles. German industry has increased its competitiveness because it is investing less in purchasing raw materials that are more economical or recycled. Currently, the annual turnover of the green technology industry is around 300 billion euros.
Changing our culture of consumption
Since the circular economy requires raw materials that are free from pollution, there will be an increased reliance on facilities that will treat the residual waste and pollution after production. Here we talk primarily about the power generation facilities. This is the problematic part of the circular economy vision, as it will continue to rely heavily on technology rather than on changing the culture of consumption and the extent of material use in the modern economy.
So, for the economy to become circular, many fundamental changes must be made in the way we treat waste. Note that the circular economy is not a project to change the environment, but rather a basis for changing the economy. especially with regard to the issue of economic indicators, given that traditional indicators primarily economic growth has failed to give us an accurate description of the quality of life of popular segments (the majority of the population), their well-being and the extent to which they meet their needs.
It is the responsibility of governments to play a central role, by making the necessary changes in their legislation and policies, as well as investing large public funds in programs aimed primarily at improving the quality of life of citizens and achieving their well-being.
This means moving towards green agriculture that does not waste natural resources and encourages the return to work within the scope of small agricultural holdings, in addition to the construction sector specially to improve energy efficiency.
If we start adopting and implementing circular economy policies, we can expect an increase in the financial value of the Palestinian GDP by tens of millions of dollars. This will also lead to saving tens of millions more that are currently being invested to address the health and environmental consequences.
Economic growth is important, but not the most important. What should be our major interest is the quality of people's lives. Economic growth in the capitalist concept that aims to expand markets with the aim of increasing consumption and production of goods, regardless of environmental and social threats and destruction of natural resources. This is precisely what is caused by such growth, which certainly does not contribute to an improvement in the quality of life.
In fact, the current capitalist economic growth model of infinitely high GDP, based on ever-increasing consumption - is environmentally unsustainable. While providing certain job opportunities and raising the standard of living, it has also caused the destruction of natural systems in the world, climate change, scarcity of water sources and depletion of arable lands.
In addition, the current capitalist growth model is based on a terrible inequality in the distribution of profits generated from natural resources.
To sum this up, we can replace the current growth model with one that greatly reduces the use of raw materials. Of course, investment in public infrastructure and technology can continue, but more funding must be directed to other growth channels such as social welfare, health, education and entertainment.
Translated by: Rasha Abu Dayyeh