As a follow-up to our Top EHS Trends for 2021 webinar and blog post, RegScan is taking a closer look at some of activities shaping the EHS compliance and sustainability space. This blog post will focus on the top EHS trend of a circular economy.
Today everyone is threatened by climate change and pollution in our environments. This has been a problem since the Industrial Revolution. One of the major outcomes of the Industrial Revolution is a linear economy: an economic practice where people take resources from nature, then people make products with those resources, and finally people dump the waste from this process. Linear economic theory creates a great deal of waste and hurts the environment. The raw materials used in a linear economy are also lost and cannot be recovered. The finite limit of material resources is made known the more resources are wasted. Humanity only has a finite amount of time until we run out of certain resources.
A new economic theory was created in the late 1960s to fix the waste problem of the linear economic theory. Circular economic theory came from the drive to be completely sustainable and environmentally friendly. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation defines circular economy as “an industrial economy that is restorative or regenerative by intention and design.” For a circular economy to work well, there needs to be almost no waste created. Countries trying to reform their economy have been researching ways to create more reusable materials. Disposable plastic and packing materials, for example, are being remade into more reusable materials.
Today, most of the developed countries in the world have a reuse economy. A reuse economy has raw materials supplemented by recycling but still relies heavily on the influx of new raw materials.
Some countries in the world have begun trying to adopt a circular economy. Leaders in the U.S., China and the EU have worked to move in a direction towards carbon neutrality, renewable energy, and sustainable economies. Xi Jinping changed some of China’s previous goals for carbon neutrality to make them more aggressive. The Biden White House created a National Climate Task Force. In the EU, Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxembourg, have put into place hard plans to move their economies over to a circular economy. The European Union has also put together a plan to start becoming a more sustainable economy across its member states. These are just some of the many small steps to making the economy more environmentally friendly.
As nations and consumers warm towards some of these policies, global companies have begun to follow suit. AT&T vowed last year to become carbon neutral by 2035. Earlier this year, the transportation and logistics company Schneider launched a series of new corporate goals as part of its commitment to sustainability. Facebook, as part of its sustainability initiative, is committed to reaching net zero emissions across its value chain by 2030. As investors and stakeholders continue to track these initiatives, expect businesses to keep these priorities front-and-center.
RegScan recently launched a new Sustainability product to complement its collection of EHS compliance content, tools, and resources. For businesses interested in staying ahead of the latest changes to sustainability-related regulations and RegScan-covered frameworks, you can learn more or schedule a demo of RegScan Sustainability.