Circular economy - a couple of words that we are going to hear more about in the near future as the Victorian government develops a circular economy policy in the coming months.
The circular economy policy will help in finding new ways for Victorian businesses and communities to use materials more efficiently and avoid waste in all stages of making, using and disposing of the products and infrastructure we rely on every day.
The circular economy is designed to replace and address the social and environmental impacts of the current "linear economy" with its "take, make, dispose" model, depleting finite reserves to create products that end up in landfill.
It achieves its objectives through long-lasting design, maintenance, repair, reuse, re-manufacturing, refurbishing, and recycling - reducing waste to zero.
The definition of a circular economy has been defined for the Victorian Government policy as:
- A circular economy continually seeks to reduce the environmental impacts of production and consumption and gain more productive use from natural resources.
- Resource use is minimised, and waste and pollution are avoided with good design and efficient practices. This reduces environmental impacts while maintaining or increasing the value people obtain from goods and services.
- Products are designed so that they are durable and can be readily repaired, reused and recycled at the end of their lives.
- Business models encourage intense and efficient product use, like sharing products between multiple users, or supplying a product as a service that includes maintenance, repair and disposal.
- Innovations to increase resource productivity bring a range of benefits including jobs, growth and social inclusion to local, regional and global economies.
If we consider changing the way we view ownership by changing to an access and performance model then we could see some significant changes to the way we consume.
One example is the "pay per use" contractual agreements associated with smartphones which could be extended to standard goods such as washing machines, clothes and DIY equipment. This would see us become users rather than consumers.
So how is this all going to happen?
As we start to see greater emphasis on the collaborative economy that supports use over ownership we can expect to see significant changes in the way we operate in the coming decades.