The circular economy
Fear can either lead us forward or drive us back. Change rarely comes without stumbles and hiccups, and such a thought can be a pretty daunting one. However, the opportunity that the circular economy presents is one that may very well be the planet’s saviour. Or if you’re a glass half full person, at the very least, an opportunity for the planet to answer a particularly challenging equation.
‘Energy isn’t the issue – there is enough energy reaching us from the sun and we’ll work out how to harness it. The real issue is materials – there aren’t that many meteorites, so we only have what exists in the earth.’ – Professor James Clark, Director of The Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence.
But firstly, what is the circular economy?
It is an old though still incredibly applicable way of looking at the relationship between markets, customers and natural resources. The principle of the circular economy is summed up in the book produced by Accenture in ‘Waste to Wealth’. The book states ‘that’s not waste in the traditional sense of garbage, but the enormous underutilisation of natural resources. It’s about eliminating the very concept of ‘waste’ and recognising everything has a value.’ According to the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), this economic framework is ‘the biggest opportunity to transform production and consumption since the First Industrial Revolution 250 years ago.’
So what is its potential value? Accenture has estimated that $4.5 trillion could be added to the world’s GDP by 2030.
That figure is exciting but what value does it add to your pocket at Future Recycling? Well, the old car that sits in your garage, the lead batteries you don’t what to do with and the scrap metal floating around your worksite all has a place in the metal circle of life. You might think of Simba being lifted above Pride Rock, but we are thinking about old Herbie, the VW bug you can’t get rid of. Instead of tossing valuable material into landfill, you have a sustainable way to recycle your metals and allow them to be transformed into new appliances for use in future generations. Not only that, but our method of sustainable disposal and recycling leads to cash in your pocket. Cash for Scrap. Metal for the future of our planet. Circular movement of the world’s exhaustible materials leads to reductions in carbon emission, sustainable development for future generations and the redefinition of sustainability. How good is that!?
Our world is a living world. The impact of our footprint is in our eye line, but also above and below. Melting ice caps, endangered species, and our natural resources reaching levels that will be sapped within our lifetime. For instance, according to BP’s annual statistical review of world energy states we have approximately 53 years of oil left at the current rate of production. The world’s population has soared to more than 7.5 billion people. But all this information might lose you. What we need to talk about is what are the opportunities that will save our most valuable resources. Time. Money. Health. How?
According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, we have developed a linear approach to our economic model; ‘we take, we make and we dispose’. We purchase a phone or a washing machine, we use it until it breaks down or technological advancement makes it obsolete and we generally toss it in landfill. What a waste, right? There is a different way, and it won’t happen overnight. It will take strong leadership and a huge disruption in how we think about consumption. But the disruption is already happening and the way we consume is changing with every technological advancement. Facebook, Uber, and Airbnb are just a few of the companies who have disrupted the system. Facebook, the world’s most popular media company, creates no content. Uber, the world’s biggest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Airbnb the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no property.
When technology is utilised, connections grow. We carefully monitor market rates of metals to ensure that the cash you receive for your metal is fair, allowing both parties to share, grow and prosper in the cycle, rather than simple taking, making and disposing. Our transfer stations employ local people and supports local schools, kindergartens, charities and clubs with the sale of pre-loved goods recycled within the transfer station. Future Recycling wants to ensure that our involvement with the local community is the foundation of the connection we have with the community.
The five business models the WBCSD sets out promotes a longer product life, a more efficient way of collaborating, a premium placed on reusing materials and resources and a different way of providing a service. We agree. But we like to keep it simple. We provide waste recycling bins to collect the metals, whether it be copper, brass, aluminium or a whole range of ferrous and non ferrous materials. This facilitates community involvement in the life circle of these materials.
What these five models represent are solutions. And as architect and designer William McDonough says in his ‘Cradle to Cradle Design’ Ted Talk, ‘the good news is the news of abundance, not limits.’ Our planet is resilient and human beings are entrepreneurial and resourceful. But as McDonough states when talking about climate change, ‘that wasn’t part of our plan, well, it’s part of our de facto plan because it is the thing that is happening because we have no plan.’ By carefully choosing the business model that is right for their business, businesses and consumers are selecting a plan that can contribute to the completion of a circular economy.
Future Recycling is just one of the many companies that are building towards a dramatic change. Metal recycling is one of the biggest opportunities to grow our economy, greatly assist the strain placed on our planet’s resources, create jobs and build businesses. As such, Future Recycling is committed to being part of the circular economy in Victoria. Future Recycling Metals provides bins for any type of scrap metal that will be collected at an agreed date. With sites in Pakenham, Dandenong, Hallam and Shepparton for waste and hard rubbish, the junk you didn’t give a second thought to dumping gets made into new usable materials suitable for the local and overseas construction and manufacturing market. We do the hard work, you can clear out your storage and you make some cash. These are small steps on the way to building a truly sustainable economy.
As our population grows, the more we need to be resourceful with our space whilst upholding our commitment to creating clean, exciting and green environments. The more people there are, the more we need to consider how we reduce, reuse and recycle. As hard as it can be to accept, change can refuel and energise our world. Short term thinking and sustainability are incompatible. We are committed to carbon neutrality and the functionality of one of our forgotten heroes. Metal, waste and resource recycling.
As McDonough says, ‘If you get the values and principles right, and use technical and biological nutrients wisely, then circular thinking isn’t a constraint on innovation, in fact it’s liberating.’