Imagine if we could implement an economy that is restorative and regenerative by design? The notion of a circular economy is not new and has deep historical and philosophical origins which enjoyed a revival in industrialised countries in World War II. It is the systematic approach to economic development that is designed to benefit society, businesses and the environment. In a circular economy, economic activity builds and rebuilds overall system health.
The three principles of a circular economy
A circular economy reveals and designs out the negative impacts of economic activity that causes damage to human health and natural systems, which includes the release of greenhouse gases and pollution.
A circular economy is aimed at using things rather than using them up. It favours activities that preserve energy, labour and materials. It encourages durability, reuse and recycling as well as making effective use of bio-based materials.
A circular economy avoids using non-renewable resources and aims to enhance renewable ones, such as returning valuable nutrients to the soil and supporting renewable energy and regeneration.
The potential impact of moving to a circular economy transcends just the economy in how it affects the natural environment. By designing out pollution and waste and regenerating by keeping products and materials in use, we could make a powerful contribution to achieving global climate targets.
Currently, one-third of all food produced globally is thrown away each year. This represents an exponential loss of nutrients and is a major cause of environmental issues. Changing our food system and turning it into a source of value, is one of the most impactful things we could do to address climate change, create healthier cities and rebuilding biodiversity.
A circular economy for food mimics the natural systems of regeneration so that waste becomes almost non-existent and is instead known as feedstock for the cycle of growth. Higher land productivity, as opposed to land degradation, less waste in the food chain and the return of valuable nutrients to the soil, would enhance the value of land and soil assets.
Food by-products are those that are free of contaminants and can be safely returned to the soil in the form of organic fertiliser using food waste management processes such as effective collection systems, composting anaerobic digestion and water waste treatments. Packaging that preserves food can be made from materials that compost as easily and safely as the food they contain. Some of the food by-products can then provide additional value by creating new food products, fabrics for the fashion industry, and bio-energy sources.
Keeping as much organic waste as possible out of landfills would exponentially reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which alone, would have an incredible impact on the health of our environment.
The challenges of implementing a global circular economy may seem daunting but in the grand design, there would also be tremendous opportunities available for individuals, businesses and governments to yield huge benefits economically and environmentally, as well as enjoying improved human health and wellness. Global Sustainable Development Goals will also be more easily met.
The ultimate challenge, of course, lies in motivating the world to seize the opportunity to get behind a common vision of a truly healthy and regenerative economy and work together towards making it happen.
Visit www.bokashibran.co.za or call us today to find out more about how you can implement the small beginnings of a circular economy in your own kitchen by starting a food waste to compost recycling program and spreading the word among friends and family to do the same. Be the change you want to see in the world!
Editorial by Colleen Easton