Construction is a complex business that often demands considerable manpower and material production. Unfortunately, as a result, it has become one of the top waste generators in the world. International studies show that construction waste is often due to the lack of on-site quality and quantity control, as well as general indifference towards waste. If nothing is done about it, there may be a resource crisis within the next few decades.
This is where the circular economy system comes in. It is an approach that focuses on improving the industry and the worldwide economy through sustainable methods. It is an anti-waste movement that aims to do away with the linear process of the Take-Make-Dispose economic model and move towards a renewable, closed-loop economic development. Under the circular economy, everything will maintain a degree of usefulness even after they are put aside by consumers.
As far as construction is concerned, the circular economy can reduce international raw material extraction through these principles:
Designing out waste
Going for resource efficiency
Deconstruction and disassembly
Reducing embodied carbon
The main goal is closing the loop, going for a circle of sustainability than a straight, linear economy that leads to mass waste.
Circular Economy and Resource Depletion
The research and business intelligence company, Ethical Corporation, recently hosted a webinar that focused on the impacts of COVID-19 on business, the economy, and the environment. One of the main topics was the importance of a circular economy in a pandemic-affected world. This was presented by Magali Anderson, Chief Sustainability Officer of Lafarge Holcim.
In her presentation, she shared that the construction industry is facing a dire challenge that pertains to an impending resource scarcity. The global population is expected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050. More people equals the need for more homes, and the depletion of resources may make everything strenuous in the long run.
Anderson stated that finding new ways to reduce material extraction should be a priority. One of the ways of doing so is improving on the current methods and materials we have. This would mean going for innovative advancements that go against early obsolescence. Though Anderson works for a company that specializes in concrete and construction material production, she tells the audience that she is all in for decreased sales if the reason stems from an increase in performance and structural longevity. Her preference for extending the lives of future buildings is favorable for reducing the overall generation of waste in the industry.
Longevity, not quantity!
Obstacles and Enablers of Circular Economy
Anderson was later joined by Andrew Morlet of the Ellen Macarthur Foundation, and Marcel Jacobs of Arctic, both of whom agreed and expanded on her sentiments. Pushing for circularity is ambitious and challenging, as the agenda requires everyone to make an effort to change the status quo.
All three agreed that world leaders should take advantage of the worldwide disruption to push for a sustainable economy. One such way is convincing the business world that the virtual office space is a viable and proven alternative in this time and day. Digitalisation is a known enabler of circular economy, as it creates new opportunities for new markets by making everything more accessible. It mitigates waste and promotes longer lives for products overall.
Working from home – It’s not for everyone, but it’s definitely a viable for long-term quarantine circumstances!
They also encourage the general public to opt for more eco-friendly choices, rather than focusing on products that offer pure convenience.
Circularity and the Future
Should the concept permeate into the mainstream, economic circumstances will gradually ease up. If a country wishes to follow a circular economy, it should work with the science community and its government. Create new policies, update the old ones, and go with a system that works for the future, rather than strictly abiding by the present.
Progress should not be rushed, but it should be monitored now that international circumstances have left numerous industries befuddled. It is everyone’s responsibility to promote healthy growth rather than cover for big businesses that have grown accustomed to excess refuse. Many new-age companies and entrepreneurs are striving to adapt using creative solutions that positively impact waste production.
Closing the loop, turning waste into resources, and pushing for innovative recycling are just some of the things a circular economy strives for. There is no such thing as unlimited resources, and despite the bountiful gifts the world has given us, we simply use too much to make it a mutually beneficial relationship. Go for waste reduction. Promote circularity and adhere to its principles, whether you are working or at home. It is the least we can do to give back to a world that has always been good to us.