By Grant Stokoe
Circular economies are a great way for towns and cities to become more sustainable in terms of their resources and waste. Based on the name, ‘circular economy’ relates to materials following a circular motion – constantly being reused, repurposed, and recycled in an effort to curve the traditional, or linear economies.
In the past, items such as plastic bottles or any other single-use item were manufactured, distributed, used, and then discarded. As previously mentioned, linear economies follow this format, which contributes to massive amounts of waste.
Circular economies, on the other hand, refer to the repurposing of said items. In terms of a plastic bottle, they can be turned into pots for plants, fiberfill for insulated jackets, or eco-bricks!
Even though this idea is great in theory, the circular economy concept is difficult to implement.
One solution to the problem of plastic is through credits. Companies can purchase ‘plastic credits’ based on the amount of plastic they produce, and that money can be used to fund environmental clean up programs in the surrounding area (“A Brief Look into Plastic Credit”). Unfortunately, this solution is not long term, but it makes corporations clean up their plastic that ends up in the environment.
Likewise, environmental programs are more common in larger cities as bigger businesses coincide with stronger economies capable of removing large amounts of plastic.
In the small town of Clanwilliam, WC, there are inadequate measures being taken by the local government to curb plastic waste in the environment. This tragedy is either a result of laziness or an inability to keep up with the waste flow.
Larger amounts of plastic in the environment were present in the low income areas of Clanwilliam. According to PETCO’s survey on South African apathy toward recycling, more than half of lower income members viewed “recycling as hard work, indicating it was easier to just throw recyclable items away” (“New Survey Shows Majority of South Africans Apathetic to Recycling”).
This lack and inability to recycle shows how circular economic strategies are less feasible in lower income areas. However, the key to changing ideologies through education. There must be increased education surrounding plastic’s degradation of the environment and the benefits of the circular economy idea as a whole.
In turn, areas such as Clanwilliam or other small towns struggling with plastic waste can repurpose plastic and other forms of single-use waste. Our collective efforts will contribute to a more sustainable, healthy, and eco-friendly environment where plastic and other forms of waste do not riddle the Earth.