A circular economy is a regenerative system in which resource input and waste, emissions, and energy leakage are minimised. This is achieved through long-lasting design, maintenance, repair, reuse, manufacturing, refurbishing, and closed recycling loops. It’s the sustainable alternative to the traditional linear economy (make, use, dispose).
A circular economy is all about keeping resources in use for as long as possible, extracting the maximum value from them while they’re being used, and then recovering materials at the end of each service life. Pushing for a more circular economy will reduce waste, driver greater resource productivity, tackle resource security/scarcity issues, and reduce the environmental impact of our production and consumption.
Circular economy initiatives in Taiwan
Taiwan is becoming a key player in the circular economy space. Last month, the group Green Drinks Taipei – which hopes to create an environmental social hub in Taiwan’s capital – organised an event as part of the Circular Economy Club’s (CEC) Mapping Week. The CEC is a non-profit international network of over 2,600 circular economy professionals and organisations in over 60 countries. And the purpose of its Mapping Week was for volunteer organisers across the globe to literally map the circular economy initiatives in their cities. The CEC states:
One of the challenges in implementing the circular economy framework is understanding what circularity means in practice, what is already working and what is not. The Mapping Week helps solve this challenge by gathering as many circular initiatives as possible in an open online directory.
The Green Drinks Taipei event was held in Sanshi, perhaps the only circular café in Taipei. Green Drinks holds environmental meetups all over the world, and in Taipei, it brought together expert researchers from a variety of sectors and identified 148 different initiatives in the country. There are, of course, many more circular economy projects in Taiwan, as well as plenty that are yet to be discovered.
Here are four initiatives that stood out at the event and which deserve your attention.
4 stand out projects
This initiative has created a cup rental system service for conferences, festivals, and special events. ChingPiao’s cup system lets attendees and concertgoers avoid single-use plastic items and instead ‘rent’ a durable, hygienic, reusable plastic cup. As a result, conference organisers deal with less waste and can reduce their spending.
Simple Eco Life creates wrapping made from beeswax as a replacement for plastic film or wrappers. These easy-to-use durable wrappers keep food fresh without relying on plastic. An estimated 12 million tonnes of plastic enter the ocean every year.
CLC, a paper manufacturing company in Taiwan, launched its ‘Dandelion’ tissues in 2009, made from recycled paper, without bleach, and reliant on renewable energy. Dandelion is the country’s first paper brand to pass three types of certification: Taiwan Green Mark, FCS COC, and the Taiwan Carbon Footprint Label. Dandelion products have been widely used by government agencies and civilian groups supporting environmental protection. Dandelion has also won the Green Brand Award.
Ice Spring is an initiative that makes tasty ice popsicles while reducing food waste at the same time. The company buys over-ripe fruits from farmers, who usually throw them out, and then turns them into popsicles.
Applications for space travel
The principles of a circular economy can be applied for future long-duration space missions too. A mission to Mars, for example, will be a two or three-year round trip. For the journey – as well as the colonisation of Mars – to be a sustainable enterprise, resources have to be used efficiently. Recycling is key to long-duration space missions and circular economy projects can certainly provide inspiration for how to improve resource use and management in space, as well as on Mars.
About the author: Sam Woolfe @samwoolfe
Sam is a writer who is especially interested in space exploration, sustainability, tech, agriculture, and nutrition.