The European Union is constantly looking for new ways to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. The possibility of achieving the goal is created, inter alia, by a transition to a circular economy. What is a circular economy, what are its priorities and advantages, and why is it an important step towards a better future?
What is a circular economy?
A circular economy is a concept aimed at the rational use of resources. In other words, it is a model of consumption and production aimed at maximizing the reuse of existing materials and products. This makes it a kind of opposite to the traditional economic model based on the “take – produce – consume – dispose” pattern.
Goals of a circular economy
The overriding mission of a circular economy is to minimize the consumption of raw materials, and thus reduce the amount of waste generated. This is related to another important goal of a circular economy, i.e. environmental protection. In addition, a circular economy strives to increase energy efficiency, inter alia, by using its renewable sources.
A circular economy in practice
In practice, adhering to a circular economy concept means sharing, borrowing, repairing and recycling resources. For example, the idea of a circular economy fits perfectly with companies offering second-hand goods, such as second-hand book stores or second-hand shops. In the food sector, a circular economy can be seen through the sustainable management of water resources, which corresponds to European standards for the production of agricultural products. As far as the meat industry is concerned, entrepreneurs implement the assumptions of a circular economy, for example, by taking actions aimed at recovering the maximum amount of water from wastewater (wastewater recycling), which is generated in large quantities by activities related to e.g. slaughter.
For the sake of the planet
One of the numerous benefits of implementing and popularizing a circular economy is the reduction of annual greenhouse gas emissions, which counteracts the deepening of the greenhouse effect. In addition, recycling promoted in a circular economy reduces the extraction of raw materials from limited deposits.
From the perspective of entrepreneurs
However, the advantages of a circular economy are not limited to the ecological context. The reuse of resources is also beneficial for companies, for which it creates new opportunities for savings. The recovery of waste turns it into valuable objects, which in turn reduces the costs associated with its disposal. A circular economy is also an impulse to seek innovation, and thus the company’s growth, which increases its competitiveness. It is worth mentioning that the implementation of a circular economy model also contributes to employment growth. The transition to a circular economy is expected to create up to 700,000 new jobs in the European Union by 2030.
To the delight of consumers
A circular economy also works for the benefit of consumers. Thanks to the implementation of the assumptions of a circular economy, demanding customers receive durable products that can be used to build personal savings and improve their quality of life. The development of a circular economy is also associated with better availability of good quality second-hand products, and thus a wider range of options for consumers.
The EU is betting on the future
A circular economy is an investment in a friendly planet, and at the same time an innovative future. Given the numerous advantages of a circular economy, it is not surprising that the EU has followed the pro-ecological trend, focusing on a sustainable model of consumption and production. In order to get closer to achieving climate neutrality by 2050, in March 2022 the European Commission decided to issue the first package of measures to accelerate the process of implementing a circular economy.
High EU standards convince importers from Asia
Choosing a circular economy is choosing an economical way that allows us to obtain a high-quality, wholesome product in a sustainable manner. Thanks to the expansion of a circular economy in the EU, production standards remain at a high level, which in turn contributes to the successive increase in interest in European goods on the global market. This interdependence is visible, inter alia, in the strengthening of trade relations between the EU and Asian countries, including Japan, which remains one of the EU’s main trade partners in Asia. At the same time, the EU, surpassed only by China, is Hong Kong’s second largest trade partner.
Wholesome and appetizing
The expansion of a circular economy also applies to the agricultural sector. Many of the EU’s trade partners around the world, including importers from Japan and Hong Kong, have personally experienced the delicious results of implementing a sustainable production model. The opportunity to get to know high-quality European food products from the inside is created, inter alia, by the consumption of tasty European beef. Beef produced in the EU has the taste and quality values needed to strengthen trade ties between the EU and Asia, and at the same time connect successive generations and cultures during joint meetings at the table.
- Kulczycka, Joanna. Gospodarka o obiegu zamkniętym w polityce i badaniach naukowych [Circular economy in politics and research]. Instytut Gospodarki Surowcami Mineralnymi i Energią PAN, Kraków 2019.
- Maruszkin, Radosław, Tomasz Lasecki, Tomasz Tamecki and Magdalena Biernat-Kopczyńska. Gospodarka o Obiegu Zamkniętym. Przewodnik dla małych i średnich przedsiębiorców [Circular Economy. A Guide for Small and Medium Entrepreneurs]. Polska Agencja Rozwoju Przedsiębiorczości, Warszawa 2021.