The wheels of the circular economy have slowed over the past few years as the Covid-19 pandemic has led to an explosion in waste.
People have turned to disposable face masks to protect themselves from the virus and plastic-packaged food deliveries as they get used to life in lockdown. In Singapore alone, the already low recycling rate reached a 10-year low last year as waste collection and processing were hit by movement restrictions.
But though there have been set backs, the post-Covid recovery is an opportunity to move away from the traditional linear take-make-waste model towards a circular economy, says Clarissa Morawski, chief executive and co-founder of Reloop, a Brussels-headquartered non-profit that works with governments, industry and civic society groups to bring an end to waste.
Building a circular economy will help to bring about the economic benefits that government leaders are looking for, she argues. Increased material efficiency means less waste and more capital saved, and new business models that reuse rather than dispose, or use waste as goods, create new kinds of jobs and business potential that could help revive the global economy.
When a politician understands the numbers, and understands the science [behind the circular economy], they tend to make the right decisions.
Clarissa Morawski, CEO and co-founder, Reloop
But challenges stand in the way. One is that policymakers do not have a good understanding of the science behind the circular economy, “because the science is complex and they’re being lobbied by certain vested interests,” says Morawski.
Even so, the best way to move towards a circular economy is to communicate its value, she says. “When a politician understands the numbers, and understands the science [behind the circular economy], they tend to make the right decisions.”
Morawski has a clear vision of a world without waste and tells the Eco-Business Podcast that science, analytics, and smart policy implementation is the key to a successful eradication of the linear economic model.
“If governments start now, you could start to see change happen very quickly,” Morawski says. “We could see the impact of the those targets in as little as two years.”
Tune in as we discuss:
- Moving away from the take-make-dispose model
- Post-covid circular economy recovery models
- The energy required to recycle
- Solving waste management issues and changing consumption habits