Waste, recycling and the circular economy

Globally, waste has become a serious issue causing environmental pollution, degradation and taking up valuable land space. Many human activities have not considered the impacts of our relentless production, distribution and consumption of man-made products. Neither has there been much consideration of how these products and their components could break-down over time using the earth’s continuous natural processes. Per capita waste generation rates in many developing countries have now crossed the one kilogram per day mark (UNEP, 2013).

Waste and the circular economy

Waste management is an issue for organisations seeking to become greener and save on disposal or recycling costs. Corporate Social Responsibility practice has come a long way over the years in raising the profile of this issue and businesses are under increasing pressure to reduce their impact in relation to waste management, product safety and the life cycle analysis of products from cradle to grave.

Food waste is an interesting problem because, when disposed of in landfill, organic waste produces methane gas which is a greenhouse gas. Methane is around 23 times more powerful than carbon dioxide.

To address the waste problem. It became clear that expanding the waste hierarchy (refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, compost, etc) was not sufficient and the circular economy was born.

The circular economy is based on three principles:

  1. Eliminate waste and pollution
  2. Circulate products and materials
  3. Regenerate nature

This means that manufacturers develop products with the end in mind to ensure that nothing is wasted and materials are returned to the earth.

circular economy

Handy resources for recycling at work

recycling at workPlanet Ark has put together this information resource about recycling and waste minimisation for businesses.

Click here.

Top 15 tips on recycling at work (and at home) can be found here.



Finding a recycling service

Recycling Near You – This national not-for-profit initiative established by Planet Ark can help you to find recycling services near you.