Since the industrial revolution, we have been able to manufacture on a mass scale. The technological revolution we are currently experiencing is rapidly progressing, giving many people access to a vast range of affordable products, on a global scale. These products have brought many of us levels of material comfort unimaginable to previous generations (Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 2020). The disregard for sustainable resource use in the design phase has finally caught up with us.
Our current model of consumption is linear, resources are extracted from the environment being manufactured into goods which are discarded as waste, with often all too short lifespans. Take, Make, Use, Discard.
There is growing public awareness of the environmental damage that this system perpetuates. From the destruction of our rainforests to plastics in our oceans and the exponential rise of carbon emissions leading to climate change.
With a massive 45.4 million tonnes of waste being dumped in landfill each year, thats enough to fill over 54,000 Olympic swimming pools. England’s landfill sites will burst their banks in as little as four years if nothing is done to stem the flow of waste being sent there. (TFR group, 2020)
The Circular Economy is a new way of thinking where products, and the systems that produce & deliver them to us, are designed to remove the end of life process. Where the use of resources is closed loop, meaning end of life products and system waste is recycled back into goods. Minimising the negative impacts of our consumption by reducing the demand on resources and eliminating the environmental pollution cause by waste. Products should be designed to be reused as many times as possible, however recycling still plays a key role for many industries where reuse is not an option.