The future of humanity lies in the circular economy. Since the industrial revolution, we have evolved and become experienced within the market model of the linear economy. We do realize that this linear model of take, make & waste is no longer viable. If we do not go along with the new circumstances, the planet earth will follow causing very devastating consequences.
I’m definitely not a pessimist, but there are some substantial facts that we cannot ignore: We moan under an ever-growing waste stream, which we dump into the sea, or on mega rubbish dump or export to Africa without any reticence. We throw away intolerable amounts of food … We still choose too much for “the new, fashionable or hip”, knowing that we still could make use of the existing ones for a few years.
Still, there is a growing awareness of the fact that our attitudes compromise the basis of our lives structurally. Fortunately, we are continuously evolving into another way of producing and consuming based on a circular economic model. In any case, the trend for the future lies in the continuing exploitation of the circular economy.
Repair, reuse, upcycling …those will be the trends for the future. Companies that believe it will get the wind in the sails. The principles of cradle to cradle have obviously been described much earlier, but today and in the future, the circular economy is an amalgam of several elements.
The collaborative consumption fits perfectly in. Why would we like to have a huge amount of CDs if we have Spotify always and everywhere? This way of thinking can also be applied to other branches. Why would you like a full wardrobe of clothes? Clothing libraries, such as Lena, The Fashion Library in Amsterdam, offer you the opportunity to expand your basic clothing range with a large choice of clothes. You will hear the term clothing subscriptions frequently in the near future. Bye-bye clothes shops, welcome clothing subscriptions!
We have already been renting cars for a long time. However, BMW is experimenting with the service ‘Availability of a car for the right occasion’. Skiing with the whole family means that you need more space than a romantic getaway for two at the beach or in case you want to drive a smaller car when going to the city. With this smaller car, you’d rather choose for an electric one and, because of its compactness, you will find a parking much easier in very congested cities. Instead of buying 2 or 3 cars, BMW wants to introduce a monthly fee where you only pay for what you need at the very moment.
Also for washing machines and other products, this kind of formula is being taking into consideration. At present, new ideas are being developed that take collaborative consumption as their objective in several economic and social sectors.
Circular economy has clearly to do with a bio-based economy. The twentieth century was clearly the century of chemistry. The twenty-first century will be characterized by biomimicry, which means that, for our economy and our way of life, working, living and eating, we are going to get inspired by biology and physics.
Within a circular economy, waste develops again into raw material for new production. This perpetual mobile sustains itself and forms a closed circuit as such. The future of a more tech-based agriculture fully fits within this circular model. An example of this is the issue around phosphate emission.
In the meantime, the energy sector knows that stored energy from sunlight or other natural sources is perfectly renewable for later. Panasonic recently introduced the rechargeable batteries, which can communicate with as many as 30,000 other batteries. In this way, smaller cities can become more energy-independent from energy utilities. Disruption is also revealing itself in this case…
Smaller and larger cities will become circular in the near future thanks to urban mining.
Increasing urbanization is leading to increased amounts of waste. I will give you a good fresh example. Apple recovered nearly 1 ton of gold from PCs and phones people handed over by 2015. This quantity was estimated to be almost 35 million Euro worthy.
There are other examples of urban mining. Each medium-sized city has at least 30 to 50 coffee shops. Trendy and innovative entrepreneurs dedicate themselves to collecting coffee grounds every day at local coffee shops. I am convinced that they often get this free of charge because it generates cost savings for the coffee shop itself. This coffee can then be used for the cultivation of oyster mushrooms, because coffee crab appears to be a very good substrate for this. These oyster mushrooms can be then sold again in the city to the consumer or the catering industry or who knows in their own trendy mushroom restaurant. More and more entrepreneurs worldwide prove that it works. In the meanwhile, more than 200 of these types of initiatives have become popular on a global scale.