Sustainability should be topmost on our minds

In recent times, as people have become aware of global warming, climate change, carbon footprints, and all other sorts of environmental jargon, all levels in society are now thinking of designing new patterns of production and consumption. 

The ongoing traditional production to consumption pattern, which is denoted as the linear economy — take-make-waste or cradle-to-grave — is now proving to be obsolete. Instead, the world is now becoming smarter in disrupting this pattern by making it a circular pattern. In line with this, the circular economy is now gaining attention. 

The concept of circular economy is very simple — ensure sophisticated and smart ways of production to increase product life cycles, and the smart use of products with the intent to produce zero waste. 

There are 10Rs of a circular economy strategy, which are also representing behaviours. These are: Refuse, rethink, reduce, reuse, repair, refurbish, remanufacture, repurpose, recycle, and recover. Most of them are highly centred to the manufacturers (eg, refuse, reduce, remanufacture, recycle, recover). Many of the Rs are known and used by us in our day-to-day activities. 

A particular product may be useless to one person due to a behavioural pattern change occurring from a change in taste, preference, usage, style, and viewpoints. But the same product might be useful to other people. If there is a way of reselling that in a smart way, then both persons can benefit. 

This second-hand product trading has been quite popular since the inception of Amazon, but, with the evolution of the circular economy concept, the reselling habit is soaring. Facebook is seen as a popular place for reselling products nowadays on their marketplace. Countless buying and selling groups on Facebook have been seen in this aspect, where users can resell their unused items and buyers can have it at a minimal cost compared to the market price. This is a sign of a behavioural shift of reusing products to fulfill demands. 

Ride-sharing platforms in Bangladesh such as Uber, Pathao, and Shohoz are sharing vehicles with people based on these demands. This is also an example of rethinking or sharing products which ensures maximum utilization of resources. Parking is a big problem in Dhaka which irks traffic congestion. A parking-sharing platform named Parking Koi is a new introduction in Bangladesh which ensures a sustainable parking solution. 

Recently, France has prepared a law for repairing products which it is going to impose from 2021. As per the law, a list repairing index has been designed and those standards are to be followed in the repairing process. Primarily, they consider washing machines, laptops, smartphones, TVs, and lawn mowers as possible products which are to be repaired. They would also provide a repairing score as per the product condition so that customers can make purchasing decisions with ease. 

These refurbished gadgets could prevent the requirement for new production, which would eventually decrease carbon footprint. Therefore, this law can be considered as a stepping stone towards a circular society. 

Recycling is a common practice all over the world. However, scholars suggest that recycling often fails to recover materials in their full form. Therefore, they instead promote availing other Rs in a more sophisticated manner.

Circular behaviour of customers is closely associated with SDG 12 — responsible consumption and production. Trading second-hand products, sharing vehicles, and repairing and refurbishing existing products, are some common practices that must continue to be exercised as we move into the future. 

Individual behaviour is the key to promote circularity which would enforce other stakeholders of the society to adapt it. So, both bottom-up and top-down approaches are needed in this aspect to make the circular economy a success. Hopefully, this leads towards making a better and more sustainable future for our upcoming generations.

Saleh Md Arman is a Researcher in Sustainable Development. He can be reached at [email protected]

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