ChemistryCAN connect the circle
Chemistry makes it possible to re-use our finite material and energy resources more efficiently
As we seek to make more efficient use and re-use of our finite material and energy resources, and make use of alternative sources of energy, we can find some answers in an economy based on circular principles. This could replace our traditional linear approach of ‘take, make, dispose’.
A circular economy aims to maintain the value of products, materials and resources in the economy for as long as possible, and to minimise the generation of waste. By considering all material flows as potential resources, we can achieve this circular future, while also creating opportunities for companies and economies along the value chain.
The chemical industry can contribute in two critical ways to a transition to a circular economy:
– enabling the circular economy in downstream industries;
– circulating molecules to close the loop.
The journey towards such an economy will mean developing new business models, products and solutions that look beyond the concept of using a product just once and that look for longer loops through, say, improved durability. In making this happen there is also the challenge of minimising the energy needs required and increasing the use of bio-based and alternative feedstock.
Moving towards a circular economy can bring society many benefits, but will require time, effort and investments. Above all, it will require close collaboration between all stakeholders in society – business, civil society, academia, policy makers. No single party can accomplish this huge endeavour alone.
To understand the barriers to circularity, and what conditions are required for achieving it, Cefic spoke to Janez Potočnik, former European Commissioner for Environment, Bjorn Hansen, Head of Unit, Chemicals, Biocides and Nanomaterials at the European Commission and other experts. Here is what they have said.