An economic model that provides opportunities for better use of natural resources and increased industrial competitiveness
The circular economy reconciles economic development with the best use of natural resources by creating new business opportunities and optimizing manufacturing processes. The idea is to rely less on virgin raw materials and focus on materials that are more durable, recyclable and renewable instead.
The concept of a circular economy emerges as a counterpoint to the linear economic model – i.e., the “take-make-use-dispose” cycle – which is reaching its limit.
Over the past 30 years, despite technological advances and increased industrial productivity, which extract 40% more economic value from raw materials, demand has increased by 150%.
As a result of this trend, companies not only reduce costs and production losses, but also create new sources of revenue, for example, by encouraging the addition of secondary raw material in production processes and encouraging the waste exchange market.
The circular economy also supports the development of new links in the supply chain through practices in this model, such as: process optimization, products as a service, sharing, product life extension, circular inputs, resource recovery and virtualization.
A survey conducted by the National Confederation of Industry (CNI) in 2019 shows that 76.5% of the industries develop some circular economy initiative, although most of these are not aware that their actions fall under this concept. Key practices mentioned by respondents include process optimization (56.5%), use of circular inputs (37.1%) and resource recovery (24.1%).
The survey also revealed that 88.2% of respondents rated the circular economy as important or very important for the Brazilian industrial sector. This is not only about efficiency.
A recent survey on the profile of Brazilian consumers also carried out by the CNI showed that 38% of respondents consistently check or sometimes check whether the products they buy were produced according to environmentally friendly processes. According to the survey, Brazilians are also more aware of the destination of waste. The number of people who segregate their waste for recycling jumped from 47% in 2013 to 55% in 2019.