Circular Economy : Unlocking the potential for recycling

Circular economy concept.wooden cubes with a Circular economy icon on a green background. circular economy for future growth of business and design to reuse and renewable material resources.
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For many years, the primary attention has been directed to supporting recycling activities. However, the current situation shows that to be sustainable, many products need to be re-designed, assembled and manufactured to enable recycling.

Recent research shows that the current way of life based on a linear system is exhausted, putting increased pressure on the environment, bringing depletion of natural resources and causing pollution. As an example of the failure of the current economic model, the Earth Overshoot Day in 2023 was registered on August 2nd, five months before the end of the year. The date, calculated by Global Footprint Network using National Footprint and Biocapacity Accounts data, marks when humanity’s demand for biological resources exceeds the Earth’s capacity to regenerate them within the same year.

It is imperative to bring massive disruption to the "take-make-dispose" model, and for that to happen, a transition to a circular economy must be put in place, integrating consistent cross-cutting initiatives through different sectors.

Enabling a circular economy

The waste and resources management sector is vital in enabling this new circular economy model. The industry can perform a relevant service during the design, production and assemblage phases, thus promoting waste prevention and minimization at source, and it is also essential to transform waste into new materials and fuels, acting as a relevant provider along the value chain.

However, for this new system to become a reality, it must be economically feasible. Recycling markets won't take off while recovered materials are sold at higher prices than virgin raw materials, while recovered materials do not have enough quality to replace virgin raw materials, and while recovered materials are not provided in scale (meaning, enough amounts to replace virgin raw materials).

A certified global standard for recycling credits

An initiative to help in assisting this transition is underway: the first certified global standard for recycling credits. The platform, presented during the Second Session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on Plastic Pollution (INC-2) in Paris, will create a global market-based scheme and standard measure for recycling recognition and rewards, which will bridge the gap between the global sustainability agenda and the private sector, pushing an effective transition towards a global circular economy.

The dedicated marketplace, to be revealed during COP28, is a partnership between BEEAH Group, ISWA and Roland Berger, endorsed by the UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, and will connect waste producers and waste management providers to create a virtuous loop, generating Voluntary Recycling Credits (VRC) in a transparent and standardized process, helping the different organizations to realize their sustainability targets in terms of conserving natural resources, reducing pollution and mitigating climate change.

This initiative will also be presented during the ISWA 2023 World Congress, when we'll be able to discuss this Global Platform and other relevant topics in this field, such as: Recycling Markets, Robust Recycling in emerging economies - tools for planning and assessment, Recycling of Textiles and EPR and Informal Sector.

ISWA World Congress in Oman

The ISWA 2023 World Congress will take place in Muscat, Oman, from October 30th to November 1st. Besides being the most important waste-related event in the world, this year's Congress will take place one month before COP28 with the general topic: Global Action Towards a Net-zero Future, consisting of a unique opportunity to shape and warm up the discussions that will take place in Dubai, where the first ever Waste and Resources Management Pavilion will be taking place.

Registrations are open at I look forward to meeting you in Oman!