It was so ordinary. Drink from a bottle with a plastic straw or from a plastic cup. Staggering amounts of it have been used every year and thrown away immediately after use. Over time we have come to realize that such a cup or straw is made in a few seconds, is only used for a few minutes, but nature takes hundreds of years to break down the product. Not only on land, but certainly also in the sea, with all the consequences that entails.
In the EU, from 1 July this year, a ban on these and other plastic products, by the so-called single use plastic ban. When this decision was taken in 2019, alternatives to plastic as a raw material were already on the market for the products in question. Suppliers, retailers, fast food chains, etc. have had 2 years to switch to alternatives, such as paper. The annoying thing, however, is that alternatives are often quite harmful to the environment and are not simply suitable for reuse. For example, the production of paper is also environmentally intensive and recycling it does not always result in a high-quality product.
Single use can be described as waste, which we must prevent. This requires consumer awareness and behavioral change. The government can help with this, but the business community must be the driving force. Whether we are talking about circular revenue models or design strategies, they contribute to the pursuit of a (more) circular economy. By already thinking about issues such as use, consumption and reuse during the development of a product, circular design is created and large amounts of raw materials can be saved. Savings that are desperately needed to prevent the depletion of fossil raw materials.
Recently, the CPB published that we in the Netherlands hardly use less raw materials than 10 years ago, while by 2030 it should be half less. Only 4% of our economy comes from circular activities.
This week it is the “Week of the Circular Economy”. A week in which professionals show how circular entrepreneurship works in practice and what interested people can learn from.
Hopefully professionals, interested people and the government will eventually be able to reach consumers and initiate real behavioral change.