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CIRCULAR ECONOMY

Building a circular economy means rethinking how products are designed, manufactured, used, and treated at the end of their useful life.

WHAT IS A CIRCULAR ECONOMY?

Our current linear “take-make-waste” economy is resource intensive and puts pressure on Earth’s natural ecosystems. The circular economy poses an alternative economic system that retains resources and manufactured goods within the system through innovation, reuse and repair, redistribution, reconditioning, and recycling processes, all of which are powered by renewable energy. These principles, which have been integral to traditional ways of life for Indigenous Peoples since time immemorial, help to eliminate waste, reduce emissions, and cut virgin resource consumption. 

OUR CURRENT SYSTEM

Our current economy is linear - most of the products we purchase are made from virgin resources and are designed to be used for only a short time before being destined for landfill. Only 7.2% of materials are recirculated back into the global economy at end-of-life. This “take-make-waste” economy is resource-intensive and puts pressure on Earth’s natural ecosystems.

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THE CIRCULAR ECONOMY

Our circular economy model shows how products and materials recirculate within the supply chain through reduction, reuse and repair, redistribution, reconditioning, and recycling processes. The size of each circle represents how energy and resource intensive the process is. For instance, repairing a wool sweater is less resource intensive than recycling the sweater into a new wool good; therefore, the loopback circle for reuse and repair is smaller than that for recycling. These processes are all powered by renewable energy, such as solar, wind, biofuel, and geothermal power.

BY SHIFTING TO A CIRCULAR ECONOMY, WE CAN:

  • Create green jobs

  • Invest in local economies

  • Increase community resilience

  • Promote equitable resource distribution

  • Regenerate natural ecosystems and processes

  • Mitigate climate change

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Credit: Precious Plastics

Image by Damir Omerović

LEARN ABOUT EACH RECIRCULATION PROCESS:

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RECYCLE

Products that have reached their end-of-life and are no longer useful. Materials within products are separated, and re-enter the production process to create new products.

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REUSE + REPAIR

Products made/chosen can be reused and repaired in order to reduce waste. Upkeep and simple maintenance extends product life.

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RECONDITION

Products are returned to manufacturer for reconditioning to be upgraded for continued use.

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REDUCE

Products we purchase are not wasted and packaging is greatly reduced. The products we buy add real value to our lives and businesses. Eliminating waste starts with our purchasing decisions.

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REDISTRIBUTE

Products may have become obsolete to one consumer but has value to another. "Waste" products are resold, shared, or donated.

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RENEWABLE ENERGY

The circular economy is powered by renewable energy such as solar, wind, biofuel, and geothermal power.

THE CIRCULAR ECONOMY CAN PROVIDE A 4.5 TRILLION DOLLAR VALUE WORLDWIDE BY 2030.
- The Circular Economy Handbook
Image by Tim Oun

CIRCULAR SOLUTIONS IN ACTION

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REDUCE

POLAR ENGINEERING

Engineering and installing energy recovery systems through one of a kind refrigeration systems and heat pumps to drastically reduce carbon emissions and operation costs.

JOIN THE TRANSITION

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