ITALIANS AND THE CIRCULAR ECONOMY

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by Alessandro Amadori

 

The circular economy is a model of economy enabling a virtually endless economic

cycle despite the use of limited material resources. It is a logic that dismisses the

idea of “waste” in favor of the idea of material flows; both biological and inert

substances should be either re-adsorbed by the biosphere or reused to create new

useful items.

According to the European Parliament, “the circular economy is a model of

production and consumption which involves sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing,

refurbishing and recycling existing materials and products as long as possible”.

 

It is called “circular” since, just like nature, it flows in a cycle. In natural ecosystems,

plants grow from soil providing food to animals that in turn, when they die,

decompose into fertile soil that will support the growth of a new generation of

plants. Similarly, in a circular economy broken items are repaired or, if they cannot

be fixed, are treated as “raw” material for producing new items.

First, this means improving product design in order to increase items lifespan and

to make as easy as possible both repairing (as far as it can be done) and

separation of different materials when eventually the product is dismissed.

Production must limit its impact on the environment (i.e. recurring to energy from

renewable sources) and the production itself should be reduced to a minimum,

exploiting as much as possible existing items through sharing, repairing and

refurbishing. Boosting reuse is the core of the circular economy revolution.

Unfortunately, recycling is still expensive; public authorities should increase their

efforts to make it more convenient; worth mentioning is the choice of the Swedish

government, who reduced VAT on repair services.

There are plenty of reasons to switch to a circular economy: avoiding multiple

problems connected to the disposal of an always-increasing quantity of waste,

limiting pollution and global warming, coping with the limited availability of scarse,

already-exploited natural resources.

Every year, the average European citizen consumes 14 tons of resources and

produces 5 tons of waste.

We badly need to switch to a circular economy since we produce too much waste,

that is often toxic and/or not recyclable and would eventually turn our planet into a

giant junkyard.

 

Such a significant transition -both cultural and industrial- can not be implemented

without the favor of public opinion; measuring the citizens’ level of awareness and

support to the circular economy plays a key role.

Recently, Ipsos presented the results of a research (sponsored by Conou,

Legambiente and Editoriale Nuova Ecologia) at the EcoForum meeting.

According to this study, 76% of italians know the meaning of “environmental

sustainability” and 40% know the basic principles of a circular economy.

It is an encouraging outcome, proving an increasing interest and support to the

circular economy, key factors in order to boost a change in individual habits and

industrial processes.

72% of the Recovery Fund will be used to help the transition to a greener economy;

more about this study HERE

 

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