How to implement the Circular Economy?

What motivated the creation of the concept of the circular economy and what are its main pillars?

How to implement the Circular Economy?

By: Interview by Monica Lafon to Adrián Velasco

 

What motivated the creation of the concept of the circular economy and what are its main pillars?

The concept of Circular Economy (CE) gains momentum when detecting the evident need to integrate environmental interests with economic ones, as well as influencing three major issues of the current economic system:

  1. Finite resources

  2. Waste and processes that generate environmental problems

  3. A huge waste of resources and added value

 

What are the clearest examples in developed and developing countries where the circular economy works?

One of them is the "New Plastics Economy" initiative that has motivated large generators of plastic waste to initiate a transformation in their products, processes and waste.

Another example is the  "City Hall" in Venlo, the Netherlands, a building with high Circular Economy standards, which goes beyond sustainability and operates under the principles of Cradle to Cradle (C2C). These principles include three components in the design of any product or project based on the functioning of nature: everything is a resource for something else, renewable sources of energy are used, and diversity in designs for each specific context.

Finally and very interesting is the smartphone manufacturer "Fairphone" that has managed to continue growing with a circular product in a highly competitive niche.

 

How far away is Mexico to be able to implement this model?

An accelerated interest in the subject has begun to take place in all the actors of society, although in an incipient way. Yes, there are legislative initiatives around a general circular economy law with the possibility of being formalized in 2021. In the coming years we will see if it happens with the assertiveness and forcefulness that is required and that it is linked to a real implementation of the circular vision and not cosmetic approaches.

 

What examples of circular economy have been made to meet the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda?

Although CE can have an indirect impact on almost all the SDGs, the one that gets the most impact is SDG 12: guarantee responsible production and consumption methods.

From this perspective, and in addition to the previous examples, the large manufacturers of consumer products are redesigning their products using some CE principles.

Examples of reusable or recyclable packaging are very numerous. Products that are designed to be repairable and remanufactured occur in the capital goods and automotive industries.

Another interesting example is automobiles, architectural and electronic products that begin to be “subserved” instead of being sold, that is, the provision of the service is monetized rather than the sale.

 

What are the biggest obstacles to implementing circular systems in Latin America?

A first obstacle is the lack of legislation that encourages and, failing that, penalizes actions that differ from the CE as well as how to promote innovation with a sustainable approach.

Another challenge is that the involvement is carried out at all levels of the academy to spread the circular vision and citizen participation from the perspective of responsible consumption.

 

In your opinion, and in the current context due to the health and economic crisis we are suffering, do you think the adoption of circular systems will accelerate or, on the contrary, it will be more difficult to adopt this paradigm shift?

The current circumstance clearly shows that the environment can seriously and profoundly affect economic activies. 

I believe that this leads us to recognize the vulnerability of our models and the urgency to evolve them towards more harmonious systems with nature that are not based on the false idea of ​​an independence or subordination of ecosystems to these models.

 

Profile of the interviewee

Adrián Velasco is Founder of Futuro Circular, a consultancy specialized in Sustainable Innovation in Mexico. Industrial Designer with almost 20 years of experience in the manufacturing industry and his specialty is in Circular Economy, Sustainable Development and Business Management and Development, he has taught undergraduate classes in Sustainable Development and Sustainable Design at the University of the Environment. He is a representative of the “Circular Economy Club” and the “Circular Economy Platform of the Americas”. For more information: https://www.futurocircular.com/

Monica Lafon is a freelance writer. She has a degree in Journalism and Political Science from Concordia University in Montreal and a Master's in Environmental Policy from Sciences Po Paris.

 

Find out how your company can be part of responsible consumption in our blog: How to take your company carbon-neutral

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