One of my favourite blogs is from Jeremy Williams. I receive it automatically, having subscribed at no cost. This week’s blog offers insights into the possible benefits of what is increasingly advocated – shifting economics processes from TAKE–MAKE–USE–DISCARD (Throwaway Economics) to REDUCE–RE-USE–RECYCLE–RE-USE (Circular Economics). The DISCARD stage of conventional Throwaway Economics means free un-costed (within GDP) dumping into the Natural World of the waste and obsolete goods produced then discarded. This cost to the environment is now reaching severe levels on land, sea and in the air.
The new insight I gained from the Williams blog was the benefits of the Circular Economy to both labour (more employment; less robotisation) and also greater equity as production becomes more localised and labour intensive and less dependent on large-scale capital from corporate investment. The TEAR FUND has just published a report on which Williams’ blog is based.
Here is an extract from the blog:
Tearfund’s latest report, Going Full Circle, also points out that many poorer people in developing countries may already be involved in informal circular activities. Where people don’t have the money to buy new things, possessions are valued and repaired, and local businesses build up considerable skill in repair. Others may be involved in what the circular economy would recognise as materials recovery, but may currently be described as scavenging – bringing in plastic bottles or fabric scraps for recycling. These sorts of practices are easily lost as countries develop, and rightly so when they are dangerous or dirty. But if they can be formalised and retained as part of a deliberate circular economy strategy, then many more people will have a stake in that strategy from the start. The best of both worlds may emerge – people involved in repair and recovery, but doing so out of choice, and with decent pay and working conditions.