We consume ever-increasing volumes of finite resources. Global annual production and consumption of plastics alone is expected to quadruple from the current 350 million tons to over 1.35 billion tons by 2050.
Waste impacts climate change. The default situation in our society is a linear economy, where a resource has a beginning to its usefulness, and an end, whereupon it becomes waste. Pivoting to a circular economy, where the waste becomes newly useful material. Is the key to a sustainable future.
Replacing the materials we consume requires new extraction, transportation, processing, and manufacturing of “virgin” raw materials. Those activities are among the world’s largest consumers of energy and are thus also significant contributors to climate change.
Here’s the math: For every ton of material destroyed by incinerators and landfills, approximately 71 tons of other discards are produced in the effort to replace it – in oil and gas exploration, mining, manufacturing, agricultural, and coal combustion. Minimize this and you can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, mitigate global warming and benefit the environment.