On March 18, we celebrated Global Recycling Day. It’s a day to raise awareness for recycling and to encourage people to do their part in protecting our planet. But while recycling is important, on its own recycling is far from being a complete solution to our global consumption problem or its damaging effects on the climate.
Did you know that only 9% of plastic has ever been effectively recycled? Companies often tout their packaging and products as being recyclable – but without taking meaningful steps to put this into practice.
In some cases, recycling can even do more harm than good if not done correctly. This is because recycling requires energy and resources to process materials that would otherwise be considered waste.
So what can be done? For one thing, companies need to be held accountable for their claims about recyclability. More importantly, when it comes to the 3 Rs – reduce, reuse, recycle – the first two deserve considerable more attention. Reducing our consumption of resources and reusing what we already have is a far more efficient approach.
One way to do this is through investing in circular product design, which considers the entire life cycle of a product, from its raw materials all the way through to its eventual disposal. This means designing products that can be easily repaired or reused instead of simply being thrown away. A recent study even found that circular businesses are twice as likely to be profitable as linear businesses, and that they create 30% more jobs than traditional businesses.
So why aren’t more companies investing in circular product design? One reason may be that the upfront costs are often higher than for traditional linear designs. However, when you take into account the long-term savings from reduced waste and resource consumption, the benefits of circular product design become clear.
The most important takeaway for Global Recycling Day is that recycling is important – but not enough. A better way to reduce our impact on the planet is to consume less overall. That means buying fewer things, and choosing products that are made from sustainable materials and designed to last.