With analysis revealing that we are just 9% towards a circular economy globally, the May issue of Ethical Corporation looks at the play for circularity in the textiles, packaging, electronics and steel industries

This month we are heeding the messages of Extinction Rebellion and the climate-striking school children to investigate what it will take for companies to take their responsibility to the planet seriously and adopt less resource-consumptive business models.

The circular economy is a phrase that is much in vogue in sustainability circles, particularly when it comes to cutting out packaging waste, but as Circle Economy found in its first analysis of the state of global circularity, we’re just 9% of the way there. With scientists warning that we have only 11 or 12 years to slash our CO2 emissions, the sell-by date for single use is rapidly approaching.

In our May issue, circular economy specialist Angeli Mehta dives deep and looks at the state of play for circularity in the textiles, packaging, electronics and steel industries.

Looking at packaging waste, she highlights the corporates, investors, collaborative platforms and countries that are innovating and setting the pace, including a small San Jose, California, start-up, BioCellections, which has found a way to recycle thin-film plastics.

With UK consumers buying more clothing per person than any other country in Europe, Mehta reports on how efforts to make the garment industry more sustainable are focusing on reducing consumption, and on making clothing more durable.

Our global addiction to smartphones is the main reason we generated 45m tonnes of electronic detritus in 2016. Mehta looks at how the EU and leading companies, including Veolia, Cisco, Fairphone and Apple, are working to turn off the tap fuelling the e-waste epidemic.

Netherlands company Mud Jeans designs for reusue. Credit Mud Jeans

One solution developed by the University of New South Wales is a prototype for microfactories that can mine e-waste for its valuable components and turn them into useful products, such as plastic filaments for 3D printing.

Steel is one of the world’s most widely recycled metals, because it can be melted down and reused again and again, but globally only 83% is recycled, and often it is down-cycled because of loss of quality through contamination. Mehta looks at how Tata Steel and others are trying to raise the rate to 95%, which would reduce the need for virgin steel production by two-thirds and carbon emissions by a similar amount.

I interview Procter & Gamble’s head of sustainability Virginie Helias about what the world’s biggest consumer goods company is doing to wean itself off plastics, while CDP’s Christie Clarke writes a comment piece arguing that progress to date falls far short of the transformative action the public and regulators now demand.

Next month we will be staying on the climate theme by tackling the future of food, and how we will rise to the challenge of increasing productivity to feed a growing global population while protecting biodiversity in a rapidly changing climate.

Main picture credit: Mohamed Abdulraheem/Shutterstock


e-waste  fast fashion  FMcGs  circular economy  plastic waste  climate 

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