What is Circular Economy?
Did you know that Canada ranks #8 on the list of most wasteful countries in the world? That’s right, even though we seem environmentally friendly, our nation produces more waste per capita than South Korea, Denmark, and even the United States!
Canada produces over 25 million tonnes of waste every year! For a better idea of how much waste that is, imagine 72,000 commercial airplanes filled with passengers. That’s a lot of garbage! And it’s all going straight into landfills, without a second chance at being reused or repurposed.
This is why EFFYDESK and so many companies in Canada are working towards a circular economy.
What is a “Circular Economy”?
A circular economy is the sustainable alternative to the linear economy that we’ve become so accustomed to.
Since the Industrial Revolution and the widespread popularity of plastic products in the early 1900s, we’ve fallen into a linear pattern when we manufacture and consume products. Supply chains take resources and make products; we use these products and dispose of them when we’re done. It’s a one-way street straight into the landfill.
But this isn’t sustainable. Eventually, the earth’s resources will run out as we continue to take from the earth, use these materials, and then throw them away. Our planet only has a finite amount of resources, and if we don’t use them carefully, we’ll find ourselves knee-deep in a pile of garbage--probably literally!
This is where a circular economy can help.
A circular economy aims to extract as much value from Earth’s resources before disposing of them. This is done by reusing, repurposing, repairing, or recycling these products when we’re done using them--which minimizes how much waste we create.
A circular economy has three main goals:
- To “design out” the concept of waste
- To “use” products without “using them up”
- To protect and regenerate natural systems
There are two ways for materials and products to “cycle back” into the economy: technical and biological processes. Technical processes restore products by reusing, repairing, remanufacturing or recycling (as a last resort). Biological cycles involve organic material (like food scraps and wood) that can be “returned” to the earth through processes like composting.
Benefits of a Circular Economy
“There is no way we can address the life-threatening climate crisis and biodiversity crisis without a circular economy.”
That’s what Executive Vice-President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans, said at the World Circular Economy Forum just last year. This 2020 forum brought together over 4,000 leaders from 123 countries to discuss and present the world’s best circular economy solutions.
Simply put, a circular economy reduces our carbon footprint and limits how many resources we take from the Earth, helping us to keep our planet as green as we can. Diverting waste from a landfill is an important step in reducing pollution and creating a circular economy.
Plastics that don’t get recycled or disposed of properly can pollute waterways and ecosystems. At the current rate, there will be more plastic waste than fish in the sea by the year 2050!
Composting is also an important step in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. When organic waste is thrown into a landfill instead of being composted, it can produce large quantities of methane as it breaks down. This greenhouse gas is known to contribute to climate change.
How Canada Is Working Towards A Circular Economy
With industrial ecology (the “study of sustainability”) at the forefront of our minds this Earth Month, it’s important to ask what our country is doing to keep a clean environment for our future generations. Businesses and communities need to come up with new approaches to repurpose materials that we might otherwise just throw away. We must come up with new business models to transition into an era of circular economies.
“We have an unprecedented opportunity to reimagine our economies in order to promote sustainability, clean growth, and circularity,” says Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change, John Wilkinson.
Repurposing and reducing plastic usage is one of Canada’s top priorities now, as our plastic waste situation is getting out of hand. Canadians throw away over 3 million tonnes of plastic waste every year, and only 9% of this gets recycled properly!
Canada has set an ambitious goal of cutting out all single-use plastic waste by 2030. With a circular economy in mind, this zero-plastic-waste plan will reduce pollution in waterways and create as many as 42,000 jobs by 2030.
Simple Ways You Can Help
Taking part in a circular economy involves rethinking the value of all materials and products before they become waste. What can you do with these materials in order to keep them in the cycle?
You probably already know the 3 R’s: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. But there’s so much more involved!
Reducing the amount of waste you produce is the first step--say no to single-use plastics like straws and bags. Use your own cutlery instead of using a pair of chopsticks for one meal and throwing them away.
Digital technology is on our side: sign up for e-statements and e-receipts instead of physical copies to reduce paper and ink waste.
Reusing your “waste” is the next best thing to do. You can repurpose old items to give them new life (check out Reader’s Digest’s 50 Things to Repurpose). Learn simple ways to repair household items that break easily, or refurbish worn-out pieces like couches and chairs.
Composting is a great way of “reusing” food scraps. If you have leftover food, don’t put it in the garbage! Turning it into compost can “reuse” your food waste and turn it into food for your garden. (Read a full compost guide here!)
Recycling your items should be the last resort, as the recycling process still requires energy. Some recycling plants create air pollution and still produce waste, and simply “recycling” doesn’t tackle the idea of producing less waste as a whole. Sure, the waste produced might be recyclable, but it’s still waste!
How EFFYDESK Is Working Towards A Circular Economy
Here at EFFYDESK, we’ve launched a new sustainably-produced, carbon-negative desk—TerraDesk. Each TerraDesk tabletop saves 10,854 used chopsticks from going to a landfill! The manufacturing process of each TerraDesk tabletop produces minimal water waste, ensuring that these quality, handcrafted desks are climate-friendly.
Plus, the packaging for your brand-new TerraDesk is eco-friendly and recyclable! We aim for minimal waste with each shipment, as we strive towards a circular economy with sustainable materials. You can help us do that by recycling or reusing these materials where possible (check out these cardboard upcycling ideas!).
Ready to Take a Stand for a Sustainable Future?
Our award-winning ergonomic office chairs ensure that office workers are protected against desk job damage and are well-equipped to maximize efficiency and morale in the workplace — wherever that may be for you.To learn more about EFFYDESK’s products and services, be sure to check out our FAQ page or browse our ergomindfulness blog for more helpful articles on ergonomics in the workplace.