Circular Economy, a model of sustainable production and consumption

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circular economy 

In addition to reducing or avoiding waste, circular economy aims to save energy and help prevent irreversible damage to the environment caused by production activities.

Governments, civil society and companies are all focused on Glasgow, in the United Kingdom, where the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP26) is being held until November 12th. The aim is to demonstrate the urgency and opportunities to move towards a carbon-neutral economy, accelerating climate action to fulfill the Paris Agreement.

At COP26, there has been a growing discussion about circular economy, based on the conscious use of natural resources through the optimization of production and consumption processes. Let's learn more on this concept.


What is Circular Economy?

Circular economy is a concept that works on rethinking and/or redesigning consumption flows and the production system.

In addition to reducing or avoiding waste, circular economy aims to save energy and help prevent irreversible damage to the environment caused by production activities, such as air, soil and water pollution.


How does Circular Economy work in practice?

Circular economy is based on rethinking the way of developing, producing and selling products to ensure the smart use and recovery of the planet's natural resources.

"To mitigate the possible environmental consequences, it is necessary to minimize waste generation and to promote the maintenance of products, materials, and resources in the economy for as long as possible. These are the bases of the so-called circular economy, which seeks a new model of production and consumption of goods and services linked to sustainability."

(Source: Iberdrola)

The principles of the circular economy:

  • Eliminate waste and pollution at the production base;
  • Keep products and raw materials in cycles of use;
  • Regenerate nature.

The establishment of this model takes place in two cycles: the biological and the technical cycle. The biological cycle is at the base of consumption and is responsible for repurposing the raw materials used in companies' productions, allowing them to be integrated back into the environment after their use. The technical cycle, in turn, covers the restoration of products that have already been used, through reuse, repair and recycling.


How can I contribute to circular economy?

Preserving the environment and contributing to a circular economic model is a duty to be undertaken by each one of us. Therefore, it is important to be aware of our consumption habits and seek ways to minimize their impact.


Decrease meat consumption and prioritize organic food

Agricultural activities and extensive livestock farming are responsible for much of the scenario that leads to an increase in carbon concentration in the atmosphere, mainly because of the land use transformation. In addition, they contribute to the formation of pollutant gases such as methane (CH4), which despite being emitted on the planet on a smaller scale than carbon dioxide (CO2), is more than 20 times more effective in intensifying the global warming effect.

Reducing red meat consumption is one way to support the movement to reduce methane gas emissions. Furthermore, choosing to consume locally produced organic food, for example, is an initiative that reduces impacts on the environment and ensures healthier eating.

With these sustainable options, you will not only be helping smaller merchants, but also contributing to the health of your body and the planet.


Waste Reduction

Brazil is the 4th largest producer of plastic waste in the world, according to data from WWF (World Wild Fund for Nature, 2019), with a production of 11.3 million tons per year. It is also one of the countries with the lowest percentage of recycling, with only 1.28% of recycled waste.

To change this scenario, we need to invest in smart consumption, choosing products with less disposal, and adopting repair, reuse and recycling practices. By doing so, we optimize our period for using what we consume and cause less environmental impact.

Sustainable mobility

Gasoline-powered cars release, on average, approximately 120g of carbon dioxide (CO2) per kilometer driven, in addition to producing methane (MH4), nitrous dioxide (N2O) and particulate matter. The release of these pollutants is not only harmful to people's health, but also harm the planet, intensifying global warming.

Opting for sustainable mobility, on the other hand, can be a choice both from an environmental as well as a social and economic point of view. The use of public transportation, especially trains and subways, bicycles, and carpooling are alternative ways of getting around in urban space that are good for you and good for the planet.

Neoenergia performance in Circular Economy

Aiming to build joint ideas, Neoenergia, the Brazilian Institute for Development and Sustainability (IABS) and Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM) held an online debate focused on the potential of photovoltaic generation and energy demand in Brazil and worldwide. The event presented the projections of waste generated from photovoltaic systems in the country and a deepening on the theme that has been gaining more and more relevance.

The concern about the destination of the waste derived from the development of these projects is on the agenda all over the world. Between 2017 and 2019, Brazil moved from the 26th to the 16th position in the world ranking of photovoltaic energy generation prospect.

“We are witnessing the growth in the use of photovoltaic panels in Brazil and this trend will remain in place. Therefore, from now on, we need to discuss the final destination of these panels. The project also opens the debate about the destination of the panels that become obsolete, since they can also be considered waste if no other destination is thought for them", comments Adriana Nascentes, a Neoenergia's specialist.

Socio-circular energy

This work front in Socio-circular Energy is guided by the destinations and uses of waste from renewable energy equipment, especially solar energy plates, how to reuse them and how to integrate the society and create additional social and economic benefits with this technology.

"With the great advance and growth of the alternative energy sector in Brazil and especially in photovoltaic generation, a great potential for benefits opens up, including the possibility of mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and the risks of climate change. However, this rapid growth in demand and the continuous evolution of technologies and equipment, give rise to increasing challenges related to the recycling and reuse of its waste and obsolete components in an increasingly near future and which can, on the other hand, generate several opportunities for revenue and inclusion if planned under a socio-circular economy concept", highlights Tadeu Assad, IABS CEO.

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