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Circular Economy: Importance and Barriers

Paper Type: Free Assignment Study Level: University / Undergraduate
Wordcount: 4033 words Published: 30th Nov 2020

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Introduction of Circular Economy

Importance’s of circular economy

Barriers of Businesses to the Circular Economy

The Birth of Throwaway Culture

A Continuous Cycle

Edible packaging material:

Waste Meters:

The Waste of Convenience

Automobile Industries

Package-free Living

Medical Industries

Telecom Industries

Textile industries

Waste recycling



Introduction of Circular Economy

The Circular Economy is a new word for nature’s cycle of life (Bio-cycle). This applies to all the natural substances that are available. Anything in nature:

Starts life → grows → dies → goes back to the natural system → new life starts again.

Anything that’s not natural or made of natural substances has a linear approach (Make, Use and Dispose). With this approach, there is a lot of waste generated.

In a circular economy, by design, we redesign the entire economic model so that the products, materials, and components are kept at the highest level of value and utility. Every company must move from a linear approach to a circular economy. For this, we need to think – rethink the process of making.

Importance’s of circular economy

As well as creating new opportunities for growth, a more circular economy will decrease waste, impulse greater supply productivity, Achieve a more competitive UK economy. Confidence in the UK to completely address appearing resource security/scarcity issues in the future. Help reduces the environmental impacts of our stock and waste in both the UK and abroad.

Barriers of Businesses to the Circular Economy

PAST is the greatest inspiration for circular economy. We should look at our past. What our ancestors did or used and what are we using now. All the packing materials, house hold materials, carry bags, tools, furniture, clothing and all most everything that they used is made of natural material and even the linear economy then was a circular economy. They make > use > dispose, but that never generated waste, the disposed material always went back to nature.

The Birth of Throwaway Culture

Shortly following the turn of the 20th century, food organizations started using a plastic wrap called cellophane, obtained from plants (ROYTE, 2019). Chemists later emulated this bio-based polymer with polyvinyl chloride and next less poisonous polyethylene, producing Saran Wrap. While cellophane stayed compostable, the oil-based films—and the unbreakable plastic boxes that happened—were not. The boards were set for a throwaway tomorrow.

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In the 1970s, Capri Sun began discharging its liquid drinks into gusseted containers that registered less than a plastic container of similar volume. Made of mixed, ultrathin sheets of plastic and aluminum foil, the containers could be shipped flat—preserving room—and they kept food fresh without freezing. Today the pouch is everywhere, including everything from tuna to vegetable paste, pet food to pickles. It’s estimated that Americans go through 92 billion pouches a year. But their end-of-life prospects are bleak. Pouches, it turns out, are kryptonite to recycling companies, which can’t separate their heterogeneous layers

A Continuous Cycle

Usually working together, designers, engineers, biologists, investors, and recyclers are now attempting to explain packaging that falls within the commands of what’s known as the circular economy.

As said earlier, here is one innovation that was inspired by PAST:

E.g., Beginning, a Swedish research institute, has prototyped an almost smooth cellulose-based box that soup producers, for instance, could choose with freeze-dried vegetables and spices. For customers to add hot water, the container’s origami collapses stretch toward a full-fledged, and completely compostable, container. The Pratt undergraduates became a bowl of mycelium, which starts in a week and fertilizers in less than a period.

The main industries that should move towards the circular economy are:

  • Medium complexity goods
  • FMCG (Food, Packing)
  • Global supply chain

When it comes to the FMCG industry. Companies should get more inclined towards the packaging which falls in the bio cycle and not the linear cycle.

E.g., Mattpak Inc. - Franklin Park, IL is a custom manufacturer of biodegradable and water soluble blister packaging. Materials worked with are polyvinyl alcohol (PVA), polyethylene, and starch. Also offers packaging products such as bags, pouches, jars, and pails.

There is a long List of alternatives to Styrofoam items that can be used for packaging which are bio-degradable.

  • Mushroom Material.
  • Plantable Packaging.
  • Edible Packing Peanuts.
  • InCycle® Cups.
  • Bamboo Fiber Eco Bowl.
  • EarthAware™ Biodegradeable Packing Materials.
  • EarthShell “Paper” Plates.
  • Peat Plastic.
  • ecotainer® Cups
  • Loliware Edible Cups

Edible packaging material:

The startup Jumping Rocks Lab created a package-free swig of rainwater, named Ooho, by falling ice balls into extracts of plants and rust-colored tangle, which form a water-tight layer. The user bites the ball, releasing a few swallows of cold water, then drinks the layer itself. The balls will be offered by a compact machine at their point of sale, killing the need for cups.

Waste Meters:

As we have the electricity and water meters. We should have meters that measures the wastes. This can be mainly applied for the commercial kitchens. This helps the commercial kitchens reduce their wastes and improve their productivity.

E.g., Winnow has developed smart meters that analyst our trash. They are used in supplying kitchens to combine what food becomes thrown aside, and then recognize methods to reduce waste (Thornton, 2019). Live to a fifth of the food purchased can be consumed in some kitchens, and Winnow has trained to cut that in half in hundreds of kitchens across 40 countries, saving its clients over $25 million each year in the rule. That is the equivalent of limiting one meal from going to waste every seven seconds. This reform earned Winnow the Circular Economy Tech Disruptor Award.

The Waste of Convenience

Ultra-packaged meal-kit distribution services, which ship components and recipes for a single meal, are a $1.2 billion market that many analysts expect to more than fourfold by 2023.

A three-year-old group called Temper pack has acknowledged to one part of this waste difficulty with a recyclable insulated steam box that reduces the need for extended polystyrene packing peanuts, which are made from oil and gas and aren’t pleasant in recycling plants (ROYTE, 2019).

Automobile Industries

As of now, most of the spare parts are available for replacement but not for repair. The automobile industries should move towards repairable spare parts instead of replaceable spare parts.

E.g., If the rear signal/break light glass is broken, then the entire set of the light needs to be replaced and the plastic glass covering can’t be repaired. This adds to a lot of waste. Instead, if the glass can be replaced, then we can minimize a lot of waste.

Package-free Living

This mainly reduces on plastic free offerings and returnable glass bottles. Unusual retailers are already on it: Ekoplaza, a supermarket in the Netherlands, dedicates an aisle to larger than 700 “plastic-free” offerings, protected or included in cardboard, metal, glass or approved compostable plastic. And the British retailer Iceland plans to eliminate plastic from all its own-branded products within five years, in support of returnable glass bottles, newspaper, and paste trays, and plastics, like cellulose, that is compostable.

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MIWA, a Czech packaging, and transportation system that won Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Circular Design Challenge appear to meet this order. Next ordering food handling the MIWA app, generators and wholesalers distribute their things– whether cookies, chopped liver, or celery—in strong, reusable containers and capsules, then deliver them to nearby stores or users’ homes. When the receptacles are clear, MIWA assembles, sanitizes, and delivers them to raisers who refill them.

Even in our first days, all the smooth spirits used to come in returnable glass containers. The client applies the smooth spirits, returns the glass jar to the retailer who in turn states those to the producer for cleaning and re-use. This happened next succeeded by plastic bottles and now this is causing a lot of non-biodegradable waste.

This returnable glass container culture should be brought back and used in most of the soft drink and other industries where ever this can be applied.

E.g., Explaining that change in the circular economy isn’t restricted to small tech start-ups, the world’s greatest brewer requires 100% of its outcome to stay in packaging that’s returnable or got from majority-recycled content by 2025  (LONG, NGUYEN PHI;, 2019). Already nearly half of its drinks are sold in returnable glass containers, and AB InBev is operating with suppliers and clients to increase that. It has also started a protein drink made from spent grains of this brewing method.

Medical Industries

Now a days, this medical waste is one of the highest portions of the wastes that are non-biodegradable and highly toxic in nature. Worldwide, the amount of waste created per hospital patient per day ranges from 0.44 kg in Mauritius to 8.4 kg in the US, with EU countries tending to be between those two extremes (UK 3.3 kg, Germany 3.6 kg and France 3.3 kg). In the US, an additional 50,000 tons per year is estimated to be generated from home healthcare.

They can also adopt the returnable glass bottle culture which will reduce up to 15% of the wastes because of the plastic medicine bottles. In other words, value can be maximized and environmental losses minimized if a product is recovered by changing it as little as possible from its original manufactured state.

Telecom Industries

The mobile phones in the current generation lasts for a maximum of 2years (Exception is an IPhone, which can at least be used for 5years). Mobile companies should move towards increasing the durability of the software usage.

All our mobiles will have a non-damaged physical body, but because they slow down after a period (which is now around 1.5 to 2yrs), we will have to buy a new phone discarding the old one. This is piling up to a large amount of non-biodegradable waste.

E.g., HYLA Mobile Operates by several of the world’s leading companies and service providers to repurpose and reuse unless the devices themselves or their elements. It’s thought that more than 50 million designs have been reused, making $4 billion for their buyers and closing 6,500 weights of e-waste ending up in a landfill.

Instead, if the software lasts for a longer period. Then the same phone can be used for a longer period and this minimizes the waste.

Also, if the industries go for a lease concept (which was there some time ago) instead of a purchase, then  mobiles go back to the original manufacturer. This makes the manufacture think about many things like:

  1. How to improve the life of the mobile
  2. How to make sure the mobile works with useable speed for long time
  3. How to re-use the materials once the mobile is returned by the customer
  4. How to make sure very less material is used in case of repair
  5. How to provide latest technology to customer without much change in the hardware that he holds.

These questions arise only when the owner ship lies with the manufacturer. If customer own the product, then the manufacturers always wants the customer to come back and hence in some or the other way do not provide the product which lasts long or for which manufacturer had to put very less effort to repair as the complete cost lies on the customer.

This applies to every industry. If the owner ship lies with the manufacturer, then the waste is reduced. ‘Customer owns service, not the product’.

Keeping in mind this concept, the Schiphol Group entered into a collaboration with Cofely and Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG AEX: PHIA), the global administrator in illumination, for the new lighting in the terminal buildings at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (Royal Philips, 2015).

The knowledge as a service means that Schiphol pays for the light it works, while Philips remains the owner of all appliances and installations. Philips and Cofely will be jointly responsible for the review and stability of the operation and finally its re-+use and recycling at a period. By adopting energy-efficient LED torches, a 50% reduction in magnetism waste will be reached over standard lighting systems (Cofely GDF SUEZ, 2015).

In association with architects Kossmann Dejon and Philips Design, brightness appliances were specially developed for Amsterdam Airport Schiphol that order last 75% higher than other traditional outlets as the design of the connections improved the serviceability and accordingly increased the lifetime. Also, the fixture components can be individually replaced. This will reduce preservation costs and means that the whole equipment arranges not have to do recycled, appearing in the most prominent possible reduction in raw material waste.

Thus, by applying circular economy principles, Schiphol Group, Cofely and Philips have created a new standard in the transition towards sustainable lighting. The innovative light design also provides a better lighting experience and is part of an extensive renovation of the terminal intended to increase passenger comfort and capacity at Schiphol (Cofely and Philips, 2015).

The same way, French-based Schneider Electric, which specializes in energy administration and automation won the Scholarship for the Circular Economy Multinational. Using 142,000 people in more substantial than 100 countries, it uses recycled content and recyclable materials in its products, prolongs product lifespan for leasing and pay-per-use, and has started take-back projects into its supply chain. Circular projects now value for 12% of its resources and will deliver 100,000 metric tons of basic resources from 2018-2020 (NGUYEN PHI LONG, 2019).

Textile industries

Most of the dyes used in the textile industries create huge amounts of toxic wastes. Process can be developed to reduce this waste. Natural dyes can be used to dye the textiles instead of the artificial dyes(Caldwell, Sylvester S., 2019).

E.g., Dutch company DyeCoo has started a process of dyeing fabric that uses no liquid at all, and no chemicals additional than the colors themselves. It uses extremely pressurized “supercritical” carbon dioxide, partly between a liquid and a vapor that separates the color and takes it deep into the fabric. The carbon dioxide then disappears and is in turn recovered and used repeatedly. 98% of the color is occupied by the fabric, returning lively colors. And because the cloth doesn’t require to dry, the manner takes half the time, does less energy, and likewise costs less. The company previously has connections with higher brands like Nike and IKEA.

Waste recycling

  • Waste to Roads:

The printer cartridges and soft plastics should be used to construct roads in all the countries. So, these materials instead of ending up in landfill, all the waste is given a new life, getting us where we need to go(Alex Thornton, 2001).

E.g., Close the Loop, this Australian company’s innovation turns printer cartridges and soft plastic materials into roads. The results are mixed in with blacktop and recycled glass to compose a higher-quality path surface that lasts up to 65% higher than regular blacktop. In each kilometer of way hit, the equivalent of 530,000 plastic containers, 168,000 glass bottles and the waste toner from 12,500 printer cartridges is practiced in the mix.

  • Waste water processing:

 The contaminated and waste water that comes out from the house hold use and other industrial use should be recycled and converted in to clean water and also should try to produce bio gas. This process is already been applied by few companies (Thornton, 26 Feb 2019). Governments should encourage such processes and provide support to the companies who does this.

E.g., US firm’s EcoVolt technology uses wastewater polluted by industrial means, not just utilizing it into the neat river, but even generating biogas that can be applied to cause complete energy. Cambrian Innovation owns nine manufactories over the US, which must handle an expected 300 million liters of wastewater.

  • Waste to low cost building material:

Scientists and technicians in his Miniwiz Trash Lab developing over 1,000 new sustainable elements and applicability. The Trashpresso machine is the most advanced creation of sustainable upcycling. It is a mobile upcycling company that can be carried in two shipping boxes to its clients. Once there, it becomes 50kg of plastic bottles an hour into a low-cost structure material, utilizing no water, and only solar energy(Huang, Arthur, 2005).

  • Trash in Singapore:

Trash recycling in Singapore is a classic example of ‘Circular Economy’.

Singapore collects the entire trash of their country and burns it in an incinerator at around 1000 degrees Celsius. In this incineration process, they harvest the heat to generate electricity.

Even the smoke generate by the fire in the incineration is processed to make sure that the smoke is cleaner than the air. The smoke that’s emitted from the chimney of the incinerator is less than 1 micron which is very clean.

The final product – ASH is made into powder and dumped into a man-made island which is not connect to any other natural water bodies likes lakes/oceans.

All the countries should adopt this and make our TRASH CLEAN.


 Multiple conclusions can be drawn from most of the examples provided in the main body section.

  1. Looking at the RISE’s and Mattpak, Inc. - Franklin Park, IL’s work the conclusion that can be drawn is that companies should start working towards creating bio degradable packaging material.
  2. Looking at the Schiphol Group, Cofely and Royal Philips collaboration the conclusion that can be drawn is that industries and customers should move towards ‘owning a service, not the product’ culture. This improves the product quality, improved performance, longevity, reduced maintenance cost, replacement cost, reduced replacements and more repairs, more replaceable parts, which improves economy and reduces waste.
  3. Looking at the Singapore Trash recycling process, all the countries and industries should move towards developing process which can make even the non-biodegradable wastes into useable energy and into clean air.
  4. Looking the waste to roads/waste to building materials, such innovations should be made which will recycle the wastes and make them useable for other works which will improve the economy and reduces costs of the constructing roads and buildings for nation.
  5. Looking at the DyeCoo innovation, companies should move towards the greener dyes which do not use water and contaminate the water bodies. This will also improve the economy as the waste is reduced and productivity and recuse of the dye and carbon dioxide is increased.
  6. Looking at the AB InBev brewing company, brewing and soft drink companies should move towards returnable glass containers instead of the plastic containers. This will reduce a lot of non-biodegradable waste.

So, here the conclusion summary:

  1. Create bio-degradable materials
  2. Create a way to reuse non-biodegradable material (RETURNABLE CONTAINERS/WASTE TO ROADS/BUILDING MATERIAL)
  3. Create a way to recycle non-biodegradable material (INCENRATION IN SINGAPORE)
  4. Adopt Own a service, not the product culture wherever applicable (AUTOMOBILE & TELECOM)


  • Alex Thornton, 2001. Close the Loop : World Economic Forum. [Online]
    Available at: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/02/companies-leading-way-to-circular-economy/
    [Accessed 26 February 2019].
  • Caldwell, Sylvester S., 2019. Company is leading the way to a circular economy, Cuyahoga Falls, USA: DyeCoo.
  • Cofely and Philips, 2015. 'Circular economy is characterized by customer access over ownership,'. Philips provides Light as a Service to Schiphol Airport, 26 April.
  • Cofely GDF SUEZ, 2015. Multi-technical services and outsourcing for companies and communities. [Online]
    Available at: https://www.signify.com/global/our-company/news/press-release-archive/2015/20150416-philips-provides-light-as-a-service-to-schiphol-airport
  • Huang, Arthur, 2005. World of economic forum, Taipei, Taiwan: Miniwiz.
  • LONG, NGUYEN PHI;, 2019. Sưu tầm – These 11 companies are leading the way to a circular economy. [Online]
    Available at: https://npl971975.wordpress.com/2019/02/27/suu-tam-these-11-companies-are-leading-the-way-to-a-circular-economy/
  • NGUYEN PHI LONG, 2019. Schneider Electric company leading the way to a circular economy, French: Schneider Electric.
  • Royal Philips, 2015. Philips provides Light as a Service to Schiphol Airport. [Online]
    Available at: https://www.signify.com/global/our-company/news/press-release-archive/2015/20150416-philips-provides-light-as-a-service-to-schiphol-airport
  • ROYTE, E., 2019. National Geographic: The Birth of Throwaway Culture. [Online]
    Available at: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/future-of-food/food-packaging-plastics-recycle-solutions/
  • ROYTE, E., 2019. The Waste of Convenience. [Online]
    Available at: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/future-of-food/food-packaging-plastics-recycle-solutions/
  • Thornton, A., 2019. World Economic Forum. [Online]
    Available at: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/02/companies-leading-way-to-circular-economy/
  • Thornton, A., 26 Feb 2019. Companies are leading the way to a circular economy, Watertown, United States: Cambrian Innovation:.


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