If you're anything like me the only time you only ever visit a Church or Chapel to attend a celebration or funeral. However, a few weeks ago I had the pleasure of being invited along to the Riverside Church in Dumbarton to talk 'rubbish' with our Co Founder of Plastic Free West Dunbartonshire.
The congregation have chosen this year's focus and 'theme' as 'Stewards of the Earth' and the sermon yesterday had a focus on waste. The Minister told us what the people of Jerusalem did with their waste in 38BC – which was to simply throw it over the wall into the river and forget about it. Out of sight, out of mind.
Whilst this might sound quite shocking, have we really moved on from this globally?
Newspaper articles, like this one in today's Guardian and the scenes in Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Anita Rani's ‘War on Waste’ programme on the BBC along with a myriad of other stats and images shows that, we humans really haven’t gotten to grips with what to do with waste. Since 38BC we haven’t learned a thing about waste management? With more plastic in the sea than fish in 2050 and our recycling being shipped to the East to be dumped on land - not even landfilled but left to rot and leach, it would appear so.
Can we be more positive? If we look closer to home, we can. According to the Scottish Government’s website, “Since 2011 the amount of household food waste recycled has increased by over 400%.” Great news for food waste.
“Historically, a lot of waste was sent to landfill. The amount of waste sent to landfill has reduced year on year. Overall, waste landfilled in Scotland has decreased by nearly 50% since 2005.”
However, the realist in me says that this still means 50% of waste is going to landfill. How do we eradicate waste all together?
The Circular Economy
If you haven’t yet heard of the Circular Economy – in a nutshell, it’s purpose is to eradicate the concept of ‘waste’. Our current model is to ‘take, make, waste’ which means we take from our planet, we make stuff (we largely don’t need) and then waste it. This is why single use disposable anything is particularly harmful. We use precious resources – whether that’s fossil fuels or sugarcane or plant based materials is irrelevant. It’s something that is used for minutes and thoughtlessly thrown ‘away’.
When we start to look at the bigger picture, pretty much everything that we see everyday has been made within the traditional linear, ‘take, make, waste’ model. In order to prevent everything around us ending up in landfill, we need to find ways to place a value on materials and to keep them in use forever in a constant loop. Only recycling at the very final stage of use.
The Circularity Gap Report shows that our world is only 9% circular. There is a massive opportunity for businesses to innovate. Whether this is through small daily efforts like office or service industry reuse schemes or rethinking how products are made (through Circular Design, more on that next week), there are solutions everyone can get involved with. We need to make the Circular Economy something that each and every individual and business is aware of so that each and every individual and business can contribute in their own way.
If your business would like to know more about the Circular Economy, please get in touch with us and we can chat more.