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Dhaka Tribune

Paving the path to a greener future

Embracing the circular economy is now a necessitySh

Update : 19 Sep 2023, 09:13 AM

In our quest to combat climate change, we often find ourselves trapped in linear thinking, perpetually missing a crucial piece of the puzzle.

 

We've been devising strategies diligently to transition to renewable energy sources, improve energy efficiency, and make strides in reducing emissions -- all vital steps in the right direction. However, an aspect of climate action has remained largely in the shadows, an area where our linear economic perspective has kept us in the dark: Enter, the circular economy.

The circular economy is a concept that carries massive potential, yet our linear approach frequently overshadows it. We're accustomed to the linear model: Take resources, manufacture products, consume them, and then discard them. However, the consequences of this approach are all too evident in the climate crisis we face today.

Consider the case of wind turbines, solar panels, or electric vehicles. We invest in these technologies to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and lower emissions. It's a commendable step forward. But what happens next? Are we paying enough attention to the end of the lifecycle of these products? Unfortunately, we often aren't.

The circular economy offers a fresh perspective that demands we rethink our approach. The concept of the circular economy is built on the idea of minimizing waste, maximizing resource utilization, and promoting sustainability throughout the product life cycle.

In contrast to the traditional linear economy, where products are produced, used, and then discarded, the circular economy seeks to keep products, materials, and resources in circulation for as long as possible through strategies like recycling, reusing, and reducing.

One of the most compelling aspects of the circular economy is its potential to slow down the degradation of nature. By reducing our reliance on newer materials, we can decrease the pressure on ecosystems that are critical for climate adaptation. Mangroves, for instance, act as natural buffers against flooding, while forests help regulate temperatures.

A circular economy can safeguard these vital resources by reducing the need for constant extraction and production.

A direct and immediate benefit of the circular economy is reducing waste generation. Traditional waste disposal methods, such as landfills and incineration, release greenhouse gases like methane and carbon dioxide, contributing to global warming. By minimizing waste, the circular economy actively combats these harmful emissions.

Furthermore, circular practices such as recycling and reusing often require less energy than manufacturing new products from scratch. This leads to substantial energy savings, lowering the carbon footprint associated with various industries.

Adopting a circular economy approach can also enhance the ability to withstand climate-related shocks and stresses. The sharing economy, for instance, can facilitate access to necessary goods and services during emergencies.

Similarly, promoting the reuse, repair, and refurbishment of products, as well as utilizing local resources and regenerative farming methods, can enhance a nation's resilience to the impacts of unpredictable climate events on global supply chains.

To put it into perspective, let's take a step back and evaluate our current climate efforts. While transitioning to renewable energy and prioritizing energy efficiency is commendable, it can address only 55% of emissions. The remaining 45% stems from the very products that fill our daily lives -- our cars, clothes, food, and more. These cannot be overlooked. The circular economy offers a complementary solution, a means of addressing the other half of the emissions puzzle.

Imagine a world where products are designed to be durable, easily repairable, and ultimately recyclable or reusable. It's a world where waste is minimized, and resources are cherished rather than squandered.

This is the vision of the circular economy: An opportunity to complete the picture of emissions reduction by transforming the way we make and use products.

As we stand at this critical juncture in history, it is clear that embracing the circular economy is not just an option but a necessity. It is a crucial step toward achieving the climate goals outlined in international agreements like the Paris Agreement. It is an opportunity to simultaneously address environmental, economic, and social challenges.

It's time to close the loop and pave the way for a greener, more sustainable world. By doing so, we can leave a legacy of responsible stewardship for future generations and, in the process, secure a healthier planet for all.

Sheikh Hasin Abrar is a freelance contributor.

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