Article: CIRCULAR ECONOMY | Case Studies

* Written by Circular Economy Club (CEC)

The circular economy model is an alternative to the unsustainable linear model in which we live in. In the current linear model we take resources, produce, consume and waste. In a circular economy, waste becomes a resource to produce something else. But it is not only about having a good waste management system in place, it is about designing products so that we do not generate waste in the first place. It is about thinking systemically about the effect of every product and service in the bigger picture.

This new framework may be the biggest revolution in the global economy in 250 years as it challenges companies and societies to rethink the current models and relationships.

The circular model is restorative and regenerative by design, and aims to keep products, components, and materials at their highest utility and value at all times.

The Circular Economy Club (CEC) is the international network of circular economy professionals.

CEC’s activity is non-profit, global and open, anyone can join the club online for free. The club exists to spur collaboration by connecting professionals, because together we can have a higher impact. Although the club was founded in London by the Spanish Anna Tarí, CEC is ran voluntarily by engaged club members that are based all over the world.

Membership is formed of over 2,600 individuals and organisations, including designers, engineers, economists and strategists who are setting the world standard around energy, fashion, food, manufacturing, cities and other sectors.

CEC Members are revolutionising the way we look at products, just to name some examples: RePack, is an ecommerce packaging innovation with the mission to eliminate packaging waste.

When you receive an online order packaged with Repack, you unpack your item and then you simply fold the package and drop it in a post box – free of charge, anywhere in the world. The package will serve and reward many more customers after you: it can be used up to (at least) 20 times.

A widely spread area of concern is plastics and what innovations are going to cater for the innovation we need in that area.

Another CEC Member, Ioniqa, is a technological organisation that offers a profitable solution for all kinds and colour of PET Polyester (ex.: plastic found in water bottles) waste in the world.

At Ioniqa they suggest the following solution:

1. Mixed PET waste is shredded into small flakes and then dissolved in an ionic liquid with our Magnetic Smart Materials-catalyst.

2. The mixed fluid is heated to a relatively low temperature (< 200 °C) at atmospheric pressure, then the PET waste starts to ‘depolymerize’ to its original building blocks – pure monomers – the raw materials for new PET.

3. After this chemical process, the colourants and other contaminants are magnetically separated. What remains is the end-product of Ioniqa: ‘virgin-grade’ PET monomers (individual molecules that can be bonded to other identical molecules to form a polymer).

4. The monomers are sold as raw materials to PET producers to create new virgin PET.

With the yearly 80% of unrecovered materials from the $3.2 trillion worth that are used only in consumer goods (McKinsey , 2014), the circular economy is the world’s largest opportunity.

CEC exists to connect stakeholders and spur collaboration so that the circular economy is implemented. Current and new CEC Members have the possibility to coordinate CEC activities in their cities by applying to the local organisers program.