The Circular Economy can be presented as a complex concept and understood as something excessively generic or abstract. It can be seen as something external and foreign, as well as difficult to understand and even more so to apply. With this little text we are going to clarify such a well-known term. And we will see how it is not something so complicated. We will see that the only thing that is needed is the will to reflect, analyze and implement actions. Whether it is done personally, in an SME or in a large company. As a consumer or as a producer, all you have to do is get to it.

To make it easier to understand the concept of Circular Economy we will approach it through its three strategies. We will use everyday examples to understand the concept and how idea to apply on a daily basis as a consumer. will also be exhibited business models associated with each strategy to apply in the company as producers/consumers.

Strategy for slow down recirculation

It seeks to extend the useful life of products and their components. That is, that the product lasts a long time on the market.

The longer a product is in the use phase, more time has to pass before said product is demanded again. Materials used in a single product, which replaces more products less durable in the same space of time, they will always be less.

In contrast to to use and throw away from the Linear Economy we have to use and reuse, repair and reuse, repair and reuse and then throw away (but to the corresponding container for recycle materials). No more planned obsolescence and perceived!

Example: Buy durable clothing, use it more times than one yourself, exchanging clothes with other people, second-hand markets or inherit clothes from relatives/friends (reuse). patch up the pants that are torn (repair).

In companies the following business models emerge:

  • Product as a service (servitization). It is based on transforming the sale of goods into the sale of a service. Enjoyment of the good and benefits as opposed to ownership of it.

Example: I don’t sell cars, I sell transport capacity (car rental)

  • Product shelf life extension: Companies extend the life cycle of their products and assets. Not limited to sell a product if not to keep it in the market through the repair, update, remanufacturing and remarketing.

Example: I don’t sell cars, I repair damaged cars and install updates to them software or new parts

  • Classic model of durable products: It is about providing products with long useful lives to the customer. Products that are based on design to be durable and repairable.

Example: High-quality wooden furniture that lasts for generations.

  • Exchange platform: Increases the contribution of value based on collaboration between users of products, be they individuals or organizations. Share tools and machinery with other companies in the sector.

Example: A common loading and unloading platform for several companies that prevents each one from having their own.

Strategy to recirculate materials

It seeks to extend the life of materials by recovering them and reintroducing them to the market. In other words, the circle of materials is closed.

When the useful life of a product reaches at its end, the materials that compose it must be recovered in their entirety and recirculated to the productive processes or to the biological cycles as they are her CARACTERISTICS.

Example: when your pants break you make a quilt with pieces of pants (upcycling) or you deposit it in the clothing container so that the cotton is used for manufacture other products (recycling).

  • Recovery and recycling of resources: Value is added by recovering waste and turning it into materials. The Using recycled materials in a production process is one example. A value is obtained from a residue as a production material.

Example: Send

  • Industrial symbiosis: It is a solution oriented in the process, not so much in the product. It consists of using residual surpluses of a company as a source of income. use of another. They are processes that require collaboration. intercompany that usually reaches the point of pulling each other to be located in the same place.

Example: the hot water surplus of a company is the heating system of those located next to it.

Strategy to narrow recirculation

Seeks to minimize the demand for materials and energy. That is, do the same or even more (offer the same products or services) but using less energy and materials.

Within a circular economic system, In addition to recirculating materials and extending their use, you must also maximize the use of energy and of the materials themselves. This strategy seeks to do more with least, to reach high standards of efficiency and use and therefore of reduction in demand.

Example: Put LED in the house, you illuminate the same rooms consuming less energy. Buy food in bulk in cloth bags, you eat the same dish of lentils using less materials (the plastics of the packets of lentils).

  • Maximize the use of materials and energy: Carry out processes that reduce energy demand and materials. It is about doing more with less and generating less waste and emissions.

Example: Printing of 3D parts that do not generate remains of the cuts. Optimization of productive designs to save water, materials or energy.

  • Circular Supplies: Add value by substituting raw materials and energy sources for others that are renewable or that have a lower environmental impact.

Example: Manufacture cars with recycled steel from junkyards and scrapyards.

As we can see, the circular economy is something simple, using less materials and energy, for this there are different strategies, many mechanisms and diversity of elements to take into account, the most important being will and innovation.