How the Circular Economy is Changing Business
If a business is designed to earn profit, why wouldn't you want the most efficient system in place? Utilising a model that improves resource allocation, meets the growing demands of social awareness and ensures longevity seems like a step in the right direction. All of these are possible by engaging in a circular economy where refurbishment is the future.
What is the Circular Economy in Real Terms?
The circular economy is not about waste management, but rather about sustainable resource management.
At its core, a circular economy refers to a restorative system that involves industrial processes and economic activities that are regenerative by design. To put it simply, think of a loop instead of a straight line.
In a linear economy, which the vast majority of the world uses right now, we take natural resources, make them into products and services, use them, and then dispose of them back into landfills.
A circular economy is different. The goal is to take as few natural resources as possible into the loop of make-use-recycle and then find a way to reuse those resources time and time again, so we get more value out of them. This creates an efficient economy that lowers waste back into the environment.
Why does this matter to us?
South Africa is a developing country facing extremely elevated levels of unemployment, poverty and inequality, has a very linear, resource extractive-based economy, with large use of resources; export of resources for further international extraction; little 'investment' in local resources; and even smaller resource returns into the economy. This places the country at risk in terms of resource depletion or over exploitation, with the potential to directly disrupt future development.
The economy is very carbon intensive. More than 70% of our primary energy comes from the burning of coal; with high energy demands the knock-on effect is a carbon (and resource) intensive manufacturing sector. The transport sector draws 19% of the national energy demand, with the majority of the transport sector's energy supplied through petroleum products.
With 75% of land freight still transported via road in South Africa, this makes the movement of goods and people highly carbon intensive. Not surprising, South Africa's energy sector is the largest contributor to national greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (80% in 2017) (excl. FOLU).
In 2020, South Africa's CO2 emissions were the 12th highest in the world, accounting for 1.3% of total global emissions. Despite this, loadshedding since 2008, continues to plague the country. The opportunities for de-carbonising South Africa's economy and driving greater energy security through circular economy interventions cannot be underestimated.
Is a Circular Economy Sustainable?
The truth is it depends. There are some industries where a circular economy is a real challenge because innovation and economies of scale make it difficult to initiate change. However, there are many other industries that are ripe for change, like retail clothing, water, plastic and technology.
The point is to make businesses think differently not only about where the end of their product's lifecycle is, but how to shift raw materials into the beginning of their models. It places different demands on the business structure by reimagining how to institute a new solution. This encourages the next generation of leaders to design their businesses to prioritise recycling, upcycling and regenerative services.
Why Should Businesses Change to a Circular Model?
The transition to a circular economy provides the country with an opportunity for green and inclusive development to be the cornerstone of a post-COVID economic recovery. The message is clear. Transitioning to a more circular South African economy is no longer an option or a 'nice-to-have'. As a country already feeling the impact of resource constraints, sustainable resource use is critical to South Africa's future development.
The benefits include:
- Making better use of natural resources.
- Reduction of gas emissions.
- Higher protection of human health by lowering environmental pollution.
- Economic boost to the SA Economy.
- Creation of more jobs.
- And plenty more!
What are Some Examples of the Circular Economy?
Energy is probably the sexiest example of a quality circular economy at the moment. Instead of a home constantly drawing energy from an electrical plant, installing solar panels on roofs would result in as much as a 50% - 95% on the average South African home's electricity bill. This is because instead of only taking, these homes would actually be generating energy to be fed back into the grid.
Fashion is another industry that could benefit highly from circular economies. The current model is to import as many cheaply made cotton products at the lowest possible price point to consumers. This results in clothing to fade and wear after only a few washes instead of quality fabrics that hold up for longer. Leading retail brands like the Cotton-On Group ("We're a force for nature"), Cape Union Mart Group ("We care about the future") and Woolworths ("To be one of the World's most responsible Retailers") to name but a few, are playing their part in a huge shift of local manufacturing, sourcing of local products and supporting local sustainability initiatives and are leading the way in terms of sustainability in the retail space; a great initiative being clothing that is now being manufactured out of recycled plastic.
E-waste is another significant example. Current global consumer spending on electronics is estimated to be $1.3 trillion USD, which is projected to double by 2030. That is roughly 60% of Africa's total GDP. Meaning there are a lot of computer hardware parts, circuit boards, precious metals and dangerous wastes ending up in our environment.
By introducing solutions like extending product lifecycles, recovering valuable materials from tech products and recycling and reconditioning repairable components, we could drastically shift the electronic waste ending up in our landfills.
How PPS Africa Can Help?
AT PPS Africa, we are South Africa's #1 Dell Refurbished IT equipment supplier and sell IT Equipment to consumers everywhere in South Africa.
All of our products have been reconditioned to operate efficiently for your use and have been quality tested extensively. This includes refurbished laptops, desktops, and servers. Most of these products are available at 50-65% off the original manufacturing price with delivery to your doorstep; we also provide a 12-month warranty on our refurbished IT equipment so you can shop with confidence.
To learn more about the products that we sell, visit our website www.ppsafrica.co.za .
We allow for a more cost-affordable solution for businesses; for example, when you purchase a refurbished network server at significant cost savings compared to a new one while still getting the same benefits, you can repurpose your financial resources for other areas like product development, hiring staff or marketing efforts; for individuals we have a range of laptops and desktops to suit every need and budget.
Together, we can all grow an incredible circular economy that improves the environment whilst also meeting the demands of today's consumers. Refurb is the Future. Why not join the Future!