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LCC Circular economy pdf

Circular economy
Written by: Saman Hannani
Company: Low Carbon City
Date: 23 of February 2022
In this paper you will read about the explanation of what circular economy is. The technical
as well the biological cycle will shortly be explained. The main topic of the paper is about
waste management where the 6 hierarchies will be explained with examples, current
issues/trends in Colombia and a possible solution or trends.
This paper can be used for educational purposes and inspiration for climate change
All sources are selected on scientific research and relevancy.
Table of Contents
What is circular economy?.........................................................................................4
Waste management ..................................................................................................4
Sustainability trends................................................................................................10
Bibliography ...................................................................................................................13
1. What is circular economy?
Circular economy promotes and economy which is restorative and regenerative through
design and trusts on effective management of two cycles (Grant et al., 2017).
Technical cycle
The aim of the technical cycle is to recover and restore technical materials without
considering consumption. So, the goal is to keep product, components and materials at their
top-quality utility and value at all times (Grant et al., 2017).
Biological cycle
This cycle consists of flows from renewable materials with the aim to regenerate biological
nutrients. In order to fuel circular economy, the energy must be renewable as well (Grant et
al., 2017)
In order to embrace circular economy, it would be a must to ‘design out’ waste so that
technical materials will be designed to be recovered, refreshed, upgraded and minimizing
the energy input while the retention of value is maximized (Grant et al., 2017).
Circular economy is guided by three principles which are: (Grant et al., 2017)
Preserve and enhance natural capital through controlling finite stocks and the
balance of renewable resource flow
Optimizing resource yields by circulating products, components and materials at the
best utility at all times in the technical as well the biological cycles
Foster system effectiveness by revealing and designing out negative externalities
2. Waste management
Figure 1 principles of waste management (SIMON, 2019)
2.1 Refuse/rethink/redesign
To refuse what we don’t need and changing the way of producing and consuming by
redesigning business models, goods and packaging so that we can reduce the resource-use
and waste (SIMON, 2019).
From governmental statistics and World Wildlife funds figures has been shown that
Colombia annually consumes 228 plastic bags per resident in 2017 (UN environment
programme, 2017). The government is willing to reduce single-use plastic by 75% which will
lead to social, environmental and economic benefits to $825 million (UN environment
programme, 2017). New research has shown that each person on average consumes 24kg
plastic annually meaning 1250 metric ton per year in the country (Sanchez-Echeverri, et al,
A solution for plastic is to use aluminium as packaging. This material provides innovative
solutions and competitive advantages for businesses and consumers (The Aluminum
Association, 2021).
Figure 2 results of aluminium use in the U.S (The Aluminum Association, 2021)
It is a highly durable metal which is 100% recyclable, and it can be recycled for many times
without degrading its value. Almost 75% of all aluminium ever produces is currently still in
use (The Aluminum Association, 2021). Also, it is a light material which means that you can
do more with less and it will take less energy with transporting the metal (The Aluminum
Association, 2021).
2.2 Reduce and reuse
This is about minimizing the quantity, toxicity and ecological footprint caused by
consumption (SIMON, 2019). It is important to use products or components which are not
waste for the same purpose for which they were organized or repurposed them for another
use that doesn’t reduce their value (SIMON, 2019).
Food waste and loss is accountable for a third of global annual food production volume and
although the end consumer is being the key player in this, 13,8% of the global good leakage
occurs at many different stages of the food value chain (Daniela Meija, et al, 2021).
The different between food waste and loss is that food loss happens via the food value
chain, food waste occurs at retail and consumption levels (Daniela Meija, et al, 2021).
In Colombia, approximately 10 million ton of food ware lost and wasted annually, which is
comparable to 34% of the total food supply for human consumption with an amount that
could nourish more than 8 million people yearly, equal to the population of Bogotá (Daniela
Meija, et al, 2021). The proportion of food waste in Colombia occurs at the consumption
level which corresponds to 15,6% of the total wastage, while food loss from agricultural
production and post-harvest and storage processes account for 40,5% and 19,8% as the loss
of distribution and retail which represents 20,6% (Daniela Meija, et al, 2021)
There are several ways to attack food waste and loss. This can by reusing the packaging, for
example strong plastic crates which provides a high protection for the food can be reused
multiple times as bulk packaging and can be used for up to 10 years, meaning that the
carbon footprint is minimal (Bunic, 2021). Also, another approach is to use leaves. They are
not good enough to protect fruits during transport, but they are a better and more
sustainable alternative for in the retail to keep the food fresh until it is sold (Bunic, 2021)
Furthermore, it is important for consumers to avoid buying in bulks unless it’s planned to
freeze the food, using scraps in a more creative way (Katz, 2019). With the support from
Food 52 consumers can learn how to use the food scraps in a creative and sustainable way
in their meals (Katz, 2019).
Also, Food waste can be turned into a viable and economic energy source (Marjolaine,
2021). Research at Cornell university has shown that there is a new way to capture all of the
energy in a food waste product (Marjolaine, 2021). By pressure cooking the waste they
could create a crude liquid which can be turned into biofuel (Marjolaine, 2021). The
remaining part is broken down into methane which can be burned to create electricity and
heat (Marjolaine, 2021). With this, food waste can be treated as a resource and could be
made a marketable product out of it.
2.3 Preparation for reuse
Here it is important to check, clean or repair products/components of products that have
become waste in order that it can be reused without pre-processing (SIMON, 2019).
An example is refurbishing of bikes, phones or fridges etc so that they are suitable to use it
again. With an Eco-ATM in the shopping malls of Colombia, residents can sell their old
devices in exchange for money (eco-ATM, n.d.). the ATM is an automated kiosk which
makes it simple and convenient to sell back a smart device which is unwanted (eco-ATM,
n.d.). The devices will be reused, recycled or refurbished, depending on the state of the
device (eco-ATM, n.d.).
a recommended eco-ATM provider is the company ‘eco-ATM’ who has already 5000 ATM’s
across the U.S. like Walmart, Westfield and Kroger. For example these kiosks could be
placed in Viva Envigado, Santafé mall and La Strada etc.
2.4 Recycling, composting, anaerobic digestion
The recovery of high-quality material from waste streams which are separately collected
(SIMON, 2019).
An example is to turn collected paper or cardboard into cellulose for new products or
packaging. By turning source separated high quality organics into soil improvers by
composting and/or anaerobic digestion, the fertility of soils will restore (SIMON, 2019).
Furthermore, climate change is a global issue which is threatening agriculture around the
world, and so, for Colombia too. (Pasto, 2021). The coffee zones in Colombia are
characterised by variable charge, contents of organic matter which is greater than 8% acid
issues, low phosphorus levels, low bulk density and high porosity (Pasto, 2021).
Diverse soil processes can be affected due to climate change, which will cause issues like the
loss of nutrient by leaching (removal of soluble materials by water moving through the soil
profile), a decrease in organic matter content and erosion among others (Pasto, 2021)
With innovative solutions like organic-mineral soils, which are developed on large tonnage
wastes like: ash from the incineration of municipal sewage sludge, lignin sludge,
phosphogypsum and brown coal crop, soil fertility can be restored (DV suchkov, 2021).
From studies has been shown that artificial soils based on available production waste can be
successfully sold to developers, road facilities and companies (DV suchkov, 2021).
By using soil based on brown coal crop, the germination of the grass mixture will speed up
as well the increase of the heavy metal’s extraction volume from the soil (DV suchkov,
2021). Results are achieved by pre-application of the brown coal crop into the soil with an
application rate of 200-220kg/ha, by distributing it, land grading of the surface and plowing
to a depth of 15-20cm (DV suchkov, 2021).
Furthermore, as grass mixture with a seed application rate of 15-20kg/ha, the composition
has been done by: meadow catmint of 30%, tall oat grass (10%), yellow melilot (20%),
meadow fescue (30%) and medick (10%) (DV suchkov, 2021). At last, the sowing is carried
out in the spring because then it provides an optimal water regime for releasing HM from
the plant’s root system to their top (DV suchkov, 2021).
2.5 Material and chemical recovery
This is about technologies used to recover materials from mixed waste and discards from
sorting processes into a new building block for excessive best applications (SIMON, 2019).
in order to promote circular economy or reducing waste
and greenhouse gas emissions, chemical recycling will be
considered as an attractive technological pathway
(Martyna solis, 2020). In the EU they have aimed to recycle
all plastics by 2030 although, household packaging streams
are normally of lower quality with lower recycling
performance compared to industrial and commercial
waste streams (Martyna solis, 2020).
Suitable technology for waste plastics is the conventional pyrolysis. It is suitable for plastics
which are difficult to depolymerize like multi-layered plastic packaging (Martyna solis,
2020). Depolymerisation is a method to chemically recycle plastic waste. It works by
breaking down sorted plastic waste into monomers which are basic building blocks, to feed
it back into the plastic production (CEFIC, n.d.) The multi-layered plastic packaging is
currently incinerated. It is processed at moderate to high temperatures, without oxygen
(Martyna solis, 2020). Difficulties are the complexity of reactions and the high amount of
energy required in the process (Martyna solis, 2020). When the plastics are mixed with
contaminants, the process might be challenging. Pyrolysis has low tolerance to the PVC
present in the feedstock (Martyna solis, 2020). Thermal cracking is a technology in which
the process parameters can be changed to optimize the product yield in line with
preferences and needs (Martyna solis, 2020).
2.6 Residuals management
This is about waste that cannot be recovered. Mixed waste is biologically stabilised prior to
landfilling (SIMON, 2019).
Latin America faces great challenges in wastewater management to reach a sustainable
state (Lucía benavides, et al , 2019). Despite the fact that new infrastructure has been built
to reduce 40% of wastewater, just around 15-20% is effectively threated and abandoned or
defective infrastructure is a common sigh (Lucía benavides, et al , 2019).
Innovative treatments for water solutions have been provided by nanotechnology
(Sivasubramanian Manikandan, et al, 2022). Microorganism, organic suspensions and
inorganic heavy metal ions, among other things, are common contaminants of water
(Sivasubramanian Manikandan, et al, 2022). Nanoparticles and nanomembranes which is a
polymeric membrane, have recently been used in engineered materials, carbon nanotubes
and mixed oxide nanoparticles (Sivasubramanian Manikandan, et al, 2022).
Figure 3 Process (Sivasubramanian Manikandan, et al, 2022)
2.7 Unacceptable
Materials which cannot be recovered have high environmental impact and create lock in
effects that threaten the transition to zero waste (SIMON, 2019). Landfilling of nonstabilised waste, littering and combustion of mixed waste which are with or without oxygen
can destroy resources and have high environmental impact which should become part of
the past in order to achieve decarbonisation (SIMON, 2019)
3. Sustainability trends
3.1 climate justice
Along businesses the understanding of the intricate connection between climate change
and social justice has been increased. (The sustainability institute, 2021). The U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency’s Draft Strategic Plan for 2022 – 2026 will make
environmental justice a more prominent component of enforcement and processes (The
sustainability institute, 2021)
This means that businesses will respond to climate justice concerns, while resources are
emerging to help companies to consider how they can handle the issues in practice (The
sustainability institute, 2021). A good example is B Lab, who created a climate justice book
to help businesses on how to integrate climate justice considerations into their
environmental strategies by engagement with local communities and social groups or
partnering with grassroots organisations (The sustainability institute, 2021).
3.2 Companies will look to their supply chains as a key means to deliver on their climate
goals and commitments
Companies are now a days increasingly concerned with the sustainability impacts of their
supply chains and aware of their power to influence supplier behaviour and performance
(The sustainability institute, 2021).
An example is that salesforces has announced in March 2021 that all suppliers are required
to create science-based targets by 2024. Furthermore, more companies are willing to sign
up to various environmental, social and governance and sustainability initiatives (The
sustainability institute, 2021). Over 1,000 companies currently have sciences-based targets
and over 9,000 corporations disclosed data via CDP in 2020 (The sustainability institute,
Also, in the automotive sector they are seeking opportunities to work with suppliers that
can deliver low carbon aluminium (The sustainability institute, 2021). For instance,
Mercedes-Benz has taken a equity stake in green steel, which is an start-up company while
Audi is seeking for sustainable, low carbon aluminium for their e-tron GT electric sport cars
(The sustainability institute, 2021).
3.3 Businesses will accelerate efforts to add carbon footprinting labels to consumer
The expectation that companies will provide transparent information on the carbon
footprint of their products are growing (The sustainability institute, 2021). More customers
are making environmentally conscious purchasing decisions. BASF is developing a tool to
provide a carbon footprint information for its products and will apply this tool to the
complete global portfolio (The sustainability institute, 2021).
In the UK they have started a pilot with a traffic light system to indicate the carbon footprint
of products. Also, Unilever began a trial with labelling on selected products with a view to
apply this to all their products in the coming 5 years (The sustainability institute, 2021).
Grant et al. (2017). Sustainable logistics and supply chain management. United States:
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towards fighting marine litter in the Caribbean. Retrieved from Colombia’s plastic
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Sanchez-Echeverri, et al. (2021, February 2021). Mechanical and Market Study for
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HOMES. Retrieved from biogasworld: https://www.biogasworld.com/news/turningfood-waste-into-energy-to-power-homes/
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Management Systems in a Multi-Scalar, Transdisciplinary Manner in Latin America.
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