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Circular economy

(Economía circular)

Ilustración de grandes flechas que forman un círculo. Sobre las flechas, hay varios elementos, como agua, cestos de separación de residuos, plantas y aerogeneradores.

Circular economy is a new term. It has been used for some time in Spain and has recently become popular in Latin America as well. There are two complementary approaches regarding its meaning.

On the one hand, the European Parliament defines circular economy as ‘an economy, where the value of products, materials and resources is maintained for as long as possible, and the generation of waste minimized’. Based on this approach, in a circular economy, resources remain in the economy once they have reached the end of their life. They are used in a different way and their valued added is given new meaning.

In civil society and academia, the term circular economy proposes a paradigm shift that replaces linear economy. This new approach moves away from a traditional economy and towards a new one in terms of the modes of production and consumption, all in the framework of sustainable development. It proposes a model that prioritizes environmental and social impacts above economic profit. For example, the Fundación para la Economía Circular emphasizes that one of the objectives is to reduce consumption and to avoid wasting raw materials, water, or energy sources.

On the other hand, for the social enterprise Ecologing, the circular economy is ‘regenerative by design. It represents a new economic paradigm, inspired by nature, in which the concept of waste disappears so that all resources become nutrients for other cycles’. Adriana Zacarías, the Regional Coordinator of the Resource Efficiency sub-programme for Latin America and the Caribbean at the UN Environment Programme, explains that if circular economy is inspired in nature, the concept of waste no longer exists. ‘Everything that nature creates is an input or food for another organism. Think of a forest: the leaves from a tree fertilize the land; when an animal dies, another animal eats it. Everything is part of a closed system where everything flows.’

Both approaches complement each other, and they align with the views of the specialists that participated in the consultations. The experts also agree that this concept questions the current models and planned obsolescence by proposing new non-linear modes of production and consumption that revalue raw materials and product utility. To achieve this, this type of economy includes the environmental and social variables in the design, production, and disposal of products and services.

References:

www.ecologing.es/

www.economiacircular.org/

COMUNICACIÓN DE LA COMISIÓN AL PARLAMENTO EUROPEO, AL CONSEJO, AL COMITÉ ECONÓMICO Y SOCIAL EUROPEO Y AL COMITÉ DE LAS REGIONES Hacia una economía circular: un programa de cero residuos para Europa
/* COM/2014/0398 final */ [29.2.2016]

Eur-Lex.europa.eu

Noticias ONU

Photo credit: nanna45

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