In a world of limited resources, new survival models are needed. The circular economy is an idea that is gaining ground. In a new dialog format, we invite you to explore with us how chemistry will help to close the loop.
Globally, we are facing the pressures of climate change, population growth and limited resources. The United Nations’ 2030 agenda for sustainable development includes goals for tackling our most pressing social and environmental challenges. One goal is to ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns – requiring nothing less than a complete overhaul of our patterns of production and consumption in favor of a circular system. A radical shift is needed in key areas from production to water, food, infrastructure, industry and innovation.
As a holistic concept the circular economy aims at transforming the way we live so that we do not exceed our planet’s boundaries. The fundamental idea is to decouple growth from resource depletion by developing innovative business models. Moving away from the linear “take-make-dispose” to a more circular approach in production and consumption could be the biggest economic transformation since the industrial revolution.
The aim is to use fewer resources by efficient processes, waste prevention, re-use, repair, remanufacture and recycling. It focuses primarily on material cycles and relies on energy from renewable sources. Through “industrial symbiosis,” by-products from one industrial process become the feedstock for another. BASF has incorporated this idea from its very beginning in 1865. The BASF Verbund is designed for efficient use of energy and resources. The excess heat produced in one production facility can be re-used as energy in other plants. Offgas or reaction by-products from one plant work as raw material for another – reducing emissions and waste, while conserving resources.
Another pillar of the circular economy concept is growing fast: the new “service economy” where sharing and leasing replaces ownership and consumers become users. For example, the shift from individual ownership to car sharing will lead to more intense usage over the car’s service life, requiring new, highly durable and recyclable materials and technologies. Chemical innovations are essential for achieving this.
Join the conversation in intimate groups with nobel laureates and industry representatives and share your ideas on how we can close the loops to get to a circular economy thinking from past to present.
Find out more about the circular economy
1. BASF: Circular economy: A visionary roadmap? https://www.basf.com/en/we-create-chemistry/creating-chemistry-magazine/resources-environment-and-climate/circular-economy.html
2. Elks, Jennifer (2015) Why a Circular Economy Is Key to Sustainable Development (and Why Business Must Lead the Way) http://www.sustainablebrands.com/news_and_views/next_economy/jennifer_elks/why_circular_economy_key_sustainable_development_why_busin