A circular economy is a system of closed loops in which resources are continually re-used to eliminate waste. The components lose as little value as possible through reuse, sharing, repair, refurbishment, remanufacturing and recycling, thus improving productivity by increasing the efficiency of primary resource consumption.
Being restorative and regenerative, the circular model of economy represents an alternative to what is considered the heart of the plastic waste problem: the linear ‘take, make, dispose’ model of consumption. As per the World Economic Forum, plastic packaging waste represents an $80–$120 billion loss to the global economy annually. The circular system allows a systematic shift to a more sustainable model than the traditional linear economy.
The success of the economy remains with the focus kept on the design phase. Following are the approaches that can be taken into consideration:
1) Scrutinizing the need for packaging altogether
2) Using renewable, biodegradable, compostable materials and non-toxic additives
3) Decreasing waste by signing for less material
4) Producing goods using a single or small number of polymers to make recycling easier through separation.
In developing a roadmap for a circular economy, we are basically protecting our environment by offsetting the negative externalities of the linear model wherein products get manufactured, bought, used briefly, and then discarded. It is vital to ensure that appropriate resource efficiency solutions are taken across the entire lifecycle of a product and not just at the end of its life. Furthermore, reducing resource consumption and imposition of controls in consumer facing plastics, alongside a need for cooperation from businesses and private sector stakeholders too is required for upstream solutions.