By Francesco Castellano
Francesco Castellano started his speech by explaining the reasons that drove him to create Tondo and ReThink. It all started from a beach, a place where he loved swimming, that place changed dramatically during the years because of the plastic and the waste.
Trash created by human beings, which denotes, in part, the failure of the current system, a system that doesn’t take into account the impact of our actions on the environment.
ReThink – Circular Economy Forum
Without any doubt, we need to rethink our economic system, to reconsider its elements and the path we are following. The necessity to rethink led to the birth of “ReThink – Circular Economy Forum”, with the purpose to question some of the elements of our economic and industrial system and to show concrete applications of some interesting trends in the Circular Economy.
To understand the importance of the Circular Economy we need to show firstly the problems that humanity has to face at this moment. One of the most important issues is global warming caused by the CO2 issued for energetic production, for industrial activities
Otherwise, some effects, that are already present, will expand more and more, with a devastating impact of drought, fire and flood. These events have already caused damages for 320 billion dollars in 2017 (https://newclimateeconomy.report/2018/). In addition, we must consider also the damages caused by the air pollution that kills about 9 million people per year because of the “indoor” and “outdoor” pollution, for this reason we spend circa 3000 billion per year for health care connected to respiratory problems.
Another important issue is the plastic and the resulting damages, only 15% of the plastic is recycled at
According to recent studies (Phillipp Schwabl, 2018), in more than 50% of people analyzed is possible to find microplastic, but we don’t know the effects on the human being yet.
Another element to keep in mind is the unbridled consumption of planet resources, that in the past years is becoming exponential, and in the next years it could cause lack of essential resources.
Lastly, it is important to highlight how the biodiversity of our planet is put at risk by our current economic model, with about one million species of animals at risk of extinction.
The Circular Economy approach
The Circular Economy could be a possible solution to these problems. This is opposed to the linear approach typical of the current economy that is based on 3 elements: “Take”, “Make” and “Dispose”. The concept is not brand new, but it comes from the convergence of different theoretical approaches such as “Crandle to Crandle”, “Performance Economy”, “Industrial Ecology” and “Biomimicry”.
One of the elements on which the Circular Economy is based on is the emulation of nature, where the concept of “waste” doesn’t exist, and where the waste of a process became a resource in another process. It’s about an economy designed to regenerate itself, great importance is given to the design phase of products and processes, to the maintenance of material and to the regeneration of the natural system.
The Circular Economy is also a big economic opportunity. According to a McKinsey study dated 2015, it exists a market opportunity equals € 1,8 billion only considering mobility, infrastructure
There are structural funds for € 5,5 billion and the Horizon2020 program that has a strong focus on the Circular Economy with 1 billion euros. It’s a wide opportunity considering that today the world is circular only at 9% according to a recent study by Circular Economy.
The Circular Economy has a very wide sphere of action, “ReThink” is focused on three macro-aspects: energy, materials, and cities, with the full awareness that
The most relevant aspect in the next years will be the energetic one. After the IPCC study, there was an adaptation of the energetic European strategy and the targets, it will be necessary to reach the 80% of the renewables by 2050. There will be also an essential transition from centralized energy equipment to a distributed and decentralized energy, with an increase of the energetic efficiency of the buildings through the use of the artificial intelligence and IoT.
There is another question that is very debated and that could be taken into consideration in the next years: the introduction of a fee called “carbon price”. The fee would allow, not only to have revenues that could be used to support the development of
The second question is the material one. The first aspect on materials is about the catalytic technologies that allow to delete the pollutants and to convert the CO2, an issue that will be relevant in the next years. Another aspect is the biotechnology that transforms organic product waste in energy or in biodegradable materials that could replace the plastic.
In conclusion, there is the reuse and regeneration products’ issue. According to SITRA’s study, the application of the Circular Economy’s principles of 4 materials (steel, plastic, aluminum
Last aspect is the cities one. The percentage of people who will live in cities will keep growing in the next years, it is estimated that the 68% of the global population will live in cities by 2050, and the cities will become more compact and efficient. The optimization in the management of the water and water resources, in general, will be more and more a strong element of the cities, as well as a greater attention at the air pollution and at the ways to reduce it.
Also, the production of food inside the cities will increase. Transports will become more electric and shared, the building could be become organic, modular and autonomous, capable of self-producing energy for homes.
Many of the described elements will be presented by corporates, startups and institutions that are summoned to explain their approach at the Circular Economy and their vision about how the Circular Economy could be applied in the next years.
We live, for sure, in a period in which the technology could offer a lot and in which it could be possible to change towards the Circular Economy. At the heart of all, there should be the will, the desire to move towards the Circular Economy, by leading the capitals towards more relevant technologies to promote the change.