Nature can make industry sustainable while enhancing – the circular economy.
For more than 100 years, the industry has been based on the TAKE, MAKE, WASTE economy. This model is the basis of the economy, in which raw materials are collected, transformed into products that are used briefly, and then thrown away. Take, make, waste.
This linear model ALWAYS ends with waste and uses many raw materials; this model drives our planet to pollution and over-exploitation of limited natural resources.
On the opposite, the circular economy aims at reusing, recycling, repairing to limit the need for new raw resources and wastes at the end of the line.
For this, the product NEEDS to be conceived, repaired, dismantled, to be recycled. There must be a desire from the start to make it a sustainable development; engineering, design, packaging, production, logistics need to be involved.
But, most of the time, creating a product for a circular economy is more expensive than not. Customers are still not willing to pay more to save their planet. They are more likely to look for the lower-priced product, meaning those coming from the linear economy model continuing resources over usage and waste production.
The circular economy can’t become mainstream unless :
– People become aware enough to be OK to pay more for sustainable products.
– Its products become cheaper, equivalent, or more desirable than the ones from the linear economy.
But there is a way around it, looking at other ways to manufacture and solve today’s challenge, not by trusting traditional engineering and manufacturing processes. You have to look into biology and nature.
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This is what biomimicry does.
Let’s take an example of a working circular economy: a forest
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In a forest, you don’t see waste unless humans have littered them.
A forest is entirely circular; the leaves, fruits, or branches falling from trees are rotting on the ground, being eaten by insects which transform them into nutrients for the soil that the trees and other vegetables will reuse to grow again.
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The insects are helping to clean the forest and make the soil softer, which assists roots in growing; they also allow pollination. The waste of someone becomes the food for someone else. That is either giving back some food or any help to survive.
Nothing is ever wasted! That’s why our planet has lived for 3.5 billion years.
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To survive, living creatures had to solve their problems by being smart about resources and energy expenses. They found solutions that work very well without endangering their biosystem.
Why couldn’t humans do the same?
Stay tuned to the next chapter of Biomimicry & Design!