The diagram represents two concepts; the first is in using data to understand our world, which, by the way, is becoming increasingly important as a science from which we can derive trends to create models and forecasts. The second is our human footprint, an increasingly valid means to justify implementing circular systems into our economy and everyday lives.(courtesy– circulareconomy asia.org)
It was apparent that data, different from what traditional statisticians collect to measure an economy is needed as the backbone of the circular economy.
We need to –
- Use of plastics in the economy (volumes and types of plastics imported/exported, produced, and used in the manufacturing of products, etc.),
- End-of-life management of plastics (collection of waste plastics, recycling paths and recycling rates, waste treatment, international trade in used plastics, markets/uses for recycled plastics, etc.)
Humans use as much ecological resources as if we lived on 1.75 Earths. The Ecological Footprint is the only metric that compares the resource demand of individuals, governments, and businesses against what Earth can renew.
How the Footprint Works
Ecological Footprint accounting measures the demand on and supply of nature. On the demand side, the Ecological Footprint measures the ecological assets that a given population requires to produce the natural resources it consumes (including plant-based food and fiber products, livestock and fish products, timber and other forest products, space for urban infrastructure) and to absorb its waste, especially carbon emissions.
The Ecological Footprint tracks the use of six categories of productive surface areas: cropland, grazing land, fishing grounds, built-up land, forest area, and carbon demand on land. On the supply side, a city, state or nation’s bio capacity represents the productivity of its ecological assets (including cropland, grazing land, forest land, fishing grounds, and built-up land). These areas, especially if left unharvest, can also absorb much of the waste we generate, especially our carbon emissions.
It is estimated that between 1950 and 2015, 8.3 billion tons of plastic were produced, of which only 7% were recycled. About half of the plastic we produce today is discarded after only one use. A paradigm shift and action is needed to rethink, recycle and manage plastics for our future.
Equipping public and private organizations with accurate and updated data is essential to set mitigation goals and monitor progress over time. The calculation of the plastic footprint is the first step towards the 3R: reduce, reuse and recycle. This will allow the company to limit its impact on the environment and human health.
Plastic footprints on a business and sectoral scale can be done using the life cycle methodology (LCA), focused on the consumption of plastic
These are the scopes of our plastic footprint services:
- Inventory of use and disposal of plastics.
- Inventory of “leaks” of plastic in the environment.
- Plastic footprint reduction strategy.
The EU’s new Circular Economy Action Plan, of 2020 has many things . All EU policymakers know that “involving stakeholders throughout the value chain” must include the supply chain coming out of Asia. The challenge for the new Circular Economy Action Plan lies in the ability to influence other regions as the EU cannot achieve their goals in isolation.
The EU is committed to eco-design or circular design. This is relevant for all of us in Asia and India too.
Consumer engagement is, of course, necessary except the Action Plan goes one step further by wanting to phase out green washing and planned obsolescence. Most certainly a noble endeavor except there is a bit of a problem. Many businesses and people don’t fully understand the circular economy, not because they think it is recycling but become confused as to how it is supposed to actually function.
EU Circular Action Plan is Sustainable Production Processes. Here is where the EU introduces the new SME Strategy to foster industrial collaboration through clusters. The document also states “…the EU Environmental Technology Verification (ETV) scheme will be registered as EU certification mark and may extend its scope to promote cleaner production processes among SME’s.”
Less Waste More Value
Waste is on the increase, now each EU citizen generates approximately 488kgs per year with packaging waste reaching 173kgs per person per year in 2017 – the highest level ever.
Skills development for the circular economy is one topic frequently.
There is a lot of work for the EU to undertake to realize their circular dream. It is the interconnectedness of the global supply chain that presents the most challenges. Many Asian companies are no longer focused on European markets due to the ever increasing regulatory environment. How Asia responds once the Action Plan starts gaining traction will determine both the EU’s circular ambitions and Asia’s sustainability agenda.
As 2020 throws many challenges at us, we need to overcome and think and act how to move forward…
The author of the article is Mr. Sameer Joshi, PhD