A recent GfK Roper Green Gauge Global survey found that Canadians rank first in recycling out of 25 countries surveyed. However, there is still work to be done in the fight to reduce our environmental impact and preserve natural resources for future generations, said Ms. Yule.
Canadians use the equivalent resources of 1.5 planets to support demand, a report by World Wildlife Fund said. The WWF goes on to report that if everyone on Earth lived as the average Canadian does, we’d need 3.7 planets worth of resources to support the demand.
Recycling alone cannot create a sustainable future. This is where the concept of a circular economy comes in, added Ms. Yule.
The Ellen MacArthur Foundation defines the circular economy as, “an industrial system that is restorative or regenerative by intention and design.” A circular economy focuses on keeping materials, products, systems, and business models at their highest level of value and utility at all times so as to eliminate waste and pollution.
One of the goals of a circular economy is to design for better end-of-life recovery along with reduction in energy usage. Businesses must not only design and build products for recyclability, but also make it easier for customers to play a role in end-of-life recovery efforts.
Consumers need to change their perceptions about recycled materials to fully realize the idea of a circular economy.
Two main factors often hold consumers back from purchasing products containing recycled materials. The first is that consumers think these products have lower quality, which is not true. The other issue is that consumers often expect products with recycled content to be cheaper. This is not always the case because the cost to recover and recycle materials can be expensive.
Ms. Yule added that the ability to manufacture new products using recycled materials is becoming more cost effective in several industries, resulting in reduced consumer prices as well as new business models.
She added that in order to drive the circular economy, businesses must deliver products and services that make it easy for their customers do more and consume less.
Both businesses and consumers must support circular economy by pro-actively supporting products that are part of a closed loop process or those containing recycled materials, added Ms. Yule.