This is Part 2 of a series of BC specific post-COVID-19 Green recovery solutions I commit to promote so we can build a more resilient and inclusive province.
What is a Circular Economy?
Definition: A circular economy (often referred to simply as "circularity") is an economic system aimed at eliminating waste and the continual use of resources. Circular systems employ reuse, sharing, repair, refurbishment, remanufacturing and recycling to create a closed-loop system, minimizing the use of resource inputs and the creation of waste, pollution and carbon emissions. - Wikipedia
Ecological Wisdom is one of my favourite Green core principles. It describes the need to live within the physical and biological limits of our Earth and to protect its life-giving nature. What a novel idea! Nearly 40 years ago when our founders formed the BC Green Party, they set these progressive priorities. A circular economy fits perfectly with our realistic principle of ecological wisdom.
As jurisdictions adjust to meet climate targets and future proof economies, one thing is certain - adopting a circular economy as part of an authentic zero waste strategy is an absolute must. This economic model is no longer considered radical, it is now considered one of the greatest opportunities for economic development, one that is low-carbon, resource efficient and socially inclusive. The British Columbia Emerging Economy Task Force Report released in May, 2020, cited leveraging BC’s green economy, including a circular economy as one of the top strategic priorities for BC. The good news is that governments in other jurisdictions have already started this fiscally responsible shift. The City of Amsterdam has launched its Circular 2020-2025 strategy, which outlines actions to halve the use of new raw materials by 2030.
Of course now the trick will be ensuring the BC Government makes the recommendation a priority and provides incentives and funding to grow the circular economy into an economically viable industry. That sure beats incentivising and propping up last century’s antiquated LNG industry!
There are thousands of potential business models. One very exciting example is located right in downtown Vancouver. Felix Bock, founder of Chop Value discovered Vancouver chucks out 100,000 chopsticks every day that end up in the landfill! He set out to divert as many as possible and repurpose them into household items. Check out his video here: https://youtu.be/IVroLuXVEP0
Another great example is Amsterdam startup Circos. It is an award-winning business model for a circular economy in the textile industry. Circos offers high-quality children and baby clothes, produced in fair wage and eco-friendly conditions, at an attractive price. This is possible because the same piece of clothing will be shared by several children and the quality of the clothing is so high.
The concept creates an incentive for textile companies to produce in as high a quality as possible. The higher the quality, the more children can make use of the same piece of clothes and the higher the profit becomes. Furthermore, textile waste is reduced by 70-85%. As a social enterprise, Circos conducts business on the premise of a quintuple bottom-line; people, planet, prosperity, purpose and party. (Courtesy: Circos)
Another Canadian company, Rent Frock Repeat. They identified that younger generations are driving a new trend in retail: renting clothes instead of buying. They launched a clothing rental subscription service to meet the growing market. A box of clothing curated by a personal stylist is delivered each month, with a wear, return, and repeat model.
As leader of the BC Green Party, I will advocate for the circular economic model to be incorporated into the economic recovery plan for BC.