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Leading the Change: Circular Economy
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I'm reading
Leading the Change: Circular Economy
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Pass it on
I'm reading
Leading the Change: Circular Economy
Pass it on
Pass it on
Articles
30 May 2022

Leading the Change: Circular Economy

A circular economy is a closed-loop system that is restorative and regenerative by design, moving us beyond the extractive “take-make-waste” industrial model we currently have. It represents a systemic shift that builds long-term resilience, generates business and economic opportunities, and enables people and planet to flourish.

This story originally ran in issue #69 of Dumbo Feather

Discussed in this Story

Full Cycle Bioplastics 

1.5 billion tonnes of plastic waste have been produced since 2015, while 1.4 billion tonnes of food are wasted each year. US-based company Full Cycle Bioplastics is helping to tackle these two environmental problems – the proliferation of plastic and the methane emissions released by organic waste – with one solution. Full Cycle’s PHA bioplastic is a totally compostable packaging alternative that rivals traditional petroleum-based PLA plastics in both performance and price. From inedible food waste, dirty paper and woody biomass to agricultural by-products and wastewater, a wide range of organic waste can be transformed into this PHA plastic. Businesses that produce organic waste can sell this waste to Full Cycle as part of a closed-loop carbon system. The waste is fed to bacteria, which produce a fat that can be used in place of oil and enables the final product (straws, plastic bags, coffee cups and lids, utensils and so on) to break down in soil or the ocean. PHA is also superior to PLA, which is often lauded as a sustainable plastic option but is only commercially compostable. Full Cycle is planning to soon build their first commercial-scale facility in New Zealand. 

TriCiclose 

Built on the philosophy that waste shouldn’t exist in the first place, Chilean company TriCiclos is rethinking the logic of our existing production systems and seeking to replace them with a circular economy model. The concept is threefold: to eliminate the production of waste at the outset, to turn waste into useable products and to regenerate natural environments. TriCiclose began in 2009 with a focus on fostering appropriate recycling practices, but the company has since evolved to go straight to the source – or heart – of the problem and disrupt our culture of production and consumption. Their work now includes services like consulting with businesses on product design, sustainability and life cycle; demonstrating how to implement circular economy systems; and running zero-waste education programs in schools. 

City of Milan Food Waste Hubs  

One-third of food produced around the world is wasted, and the resulting greenhouse gases account for 25–30 percent of the world’s total greenhouse emissions. The City of Milan is working to address the issue of food wastage while redistributing unused food to those in need. Their aim is to halve food wastage by 2030. Developed as part of the “Food Policy of Milan,” these food waste hubs gather food from supermarkets and workplace canteens that would otherwise be thrown out, organise it into varied food packages and distribute it between non-profit organisations that can deliver it to the hungry. Each hub features a cold room for fresh produce, pantry space for dry goods, admin section and insulated truck. There are currently five of these hubs across Milan, each recovering 130 tonnes of food (or 260,000 meals) each year.  

Re 

With a tagline of “Waste nothing. Taste everything,” Sydney cocktail bar and kitchen Re is revolutionising the hospitality industry. Re is recycling, reusing, rethinking and reimagining how restaurants approach food and wastage by only using surplus ingredients and by-products that have been diverted from landfill. Tonnes of fruit and vegetables that are rejected by supermarkets make their way to Re via their supplier and are then creatively transformed into gourmet snacks and cocktails. The entire restaurant fit-out has been executed using sustainable and salvaged materials, and even the glass and crockery have been recycled (the ceramics have been fashioned out of excess clay by a local maker, for example). The bar’s dream is a zero-waste model where this sharing of surplus is standard practice among hospitality venues across Sydney, and where it’s just as easy for someone to come and collect waste and by-products as it is to dispose of them.  

Good Edi

Founded in 2020 by two Melburnians eager to mitigate the impact of Australia’s love affair with coffee – namely the 2.7 million disposable coffee cups that wind up in landfill every day – Good Edi is an edible takeaway cup (that doesn’t affect the flavour of the drink within it at all). It’s made from ethically sourced ingredients like oats, grains, bran, flour, sugar, oil and salt and tastes like a savoury waffle cone. If not eaten, the cup will break down naturally within two to six weeks in a bin, home compost or garden. 

Great Wrap

Great Wrap is a locally made, 100 percent home-compostable cling wrap that breaks down within 180 days in a compost (or one to two years in landfill). Unlike biodegradable cling wraps, which break down into microplastics and pollute our oceans and soil, Great Wrap is made from potato waste and other compostable biopolymers that don’t require intensive agricultural practices.  

Cape Town Talent Exchange 

“No money? No problem!” is the motto of the Cape Town Talent Exchange (CTTE). CTTE is a bartering system that enables its more than 6,000 members to trade goods and services by exchanging “talents” – rather than money – at a weekly barter market, an annual festival, and an ongoing Local Exchange Trading System (LETS). 

This story originally ran in issue #69 of Dumbo Feather

This story originally ran in issue #69 of Dumbo Feather

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