An acute problem of the whole world is a large amount of garbage. Every year, 2 billion tons of household waste is generated in the world, and this number is increasing every year. According to World Bank forecasts, by 2030 the amount of waste can grow to 2.58 billion tons, and by 2050 – up to 3.77 billion tons. In Ukraine, the problem with garbage is critical – a large amount of garbage ends up in landfills, and some landfills solid household waste filled by 80-95%. However, there is a way out of this situation – waste recycling. To do this, governments, guided by the principles of the circular economy, are implementing an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) strategy. In this article, we explain what the EPR concept is, how it works in EU countries, and why it should be implemented around the world.
What is a circular or circular economy?
A circular economy is a model of production and consumption that involves sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing, and recycling materials and products over a long period of time. In a circular economy, the life cycle of manufactured goods is extended and waste is minimized.
The World Economic Forum defines the circular economy as specifically designed for recovery and regeneration.
The circular economy is based on three principles. Firstly, it is a reduction in the amount of waste or their elimination altogether. To achieve this, products must be durable and optimized for recycling and reuse. To do this, they must be made from quality materials.
Second, products and materials must be in constant use in the ecosystem. Biological materials, such as food or clothing made from natural fabrics, naturally return to the ecosystem through decay. Artificial materials such as plastic are recovered in eco-chains through reuse, repair or recycling (in practice, this means, for example, “pumping” an old smartphone, rather than buying a new one).
Third, the energy used to run the circular economy must be renewable. This reduces dependence on finite resources (eg oil) and increases the stability of the system.
In general, a circular economy can contribute to economic prosperity. It reduces the consumption of resources – both human and energy – for the production of products. Supply chain carbon emissions are also reduced. In addition, the circular economy makes the economy more sustainable in the long run.
Despite a number of advantages of the circular economy, it also contains some risks. Among them is the uneven distribution of benefits between countries. After all, a circular economy requires large investments in the development of new technologies and sufficient awareness of citizens, which not all countries can boast of. In addition, it is more profitable and convenient for a large number of companies to work “as usual”. Below we consider the experience of advanced countries in waste processing.