Circular economy via the lens of Covid-19
The world is faced with the pandemic of Coronavirus. Amidst this situation, a prime question arises whether the industries temporarily halt the efforts taken for sustainability practices. Should they expect a delay in the ROI for the potential investments in the circular economy? The answer is surprisingly,’No’.
The Coronavirus has certainly been an interruption in the business operations throughout the world, probably the biggest interruption ever. However, a majority of the initiatives taken up in the field of the circular economy have been providing for basic necessities in more efficient ways. Many of the needs which these businesses satisfy will not vanish merely due to the onset of the pandemic. For instance, we have ‘green buildings’, which aim at reducing the water and energy consumptions by almost 30%. People would still want to have that cut in their expenditure. We won’t get rid of water scarcity and thereby, projects like ‘micro-irrigation’, which reduce the water consumption would still be in demand.
But the question is can we merge Circular Economy initiatives with Covid-19 response?
The global economy has been unsustainable for decades in the past. As stated by the World Bank, ‘decarbonization and sustainable growth trajectory’ must be part of our post-pandemic reality. Circular economy is a comprehensive solution in improving resilience in these unprecedented times. In the words of Anirban Ghosh, CSO of Mahindra group, in the circular economy focused podcast Bending the Lines, ”succeeding the COVID-19 journey is like avoiding a bullet and succeeding the climate change journey is ensuring that slow poison doesn't get you.”
There have been numerous initiatives in this pandemic period, aimed at achieving sustainable goals. The European Union and South Korea have both adopted Green Deals as central pillars to their economic recoveries, both leveraging regenerative models and circular economy principles. In India, industries like Mahindra have signed up for the Climate Group’s EP100 campaign, making a tall commitment of doubling their energy productivity by 2030.
A Belgian startup ‘ASmartWorld’, that reconditions second-hand electronic equipment has had the idea of collecting and distributing reconditioned smartphones free of charge and equipped with a SIM card (at its own expenses) in old people's homes to help family members reconnect. A few local initiatives have adhered to use of sterilization agents to decontaminate N95 masks and give them a second life. And with a revolutionizing concept of a circular economy for reusable and recyclable food packaging containers, we at InfinityBox are aimed at reducing the use of single-use plastic containers in the food packaging industry.
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