What a socially inclusive circular economy means for emerging markets

A circular economy is a multifaceted economic growth strategy that helps enterprises, society, and the environment all at the same time. Its purpose is to encourage reduced product waste, recycling, and reuse in addition to making better use of resources.

A circular economy is a holistic approach to economic development that benefits enterprises, society, and the environment all at the same time. The objective is to use resources more efficiently and effectively by encouraging product avoidance, recycling, and reuse.

Unlike the “take-make-waste” linear model, driven by hyper-consumption, short thinking, resource over-extraction, and waste, the circular economy moves towards long thinking, resource preservation, and continuous reuse.

Another important aspect of the circular economy is its regenerative approach, with the goal of disconnecting growth from the consumption of finite resources. It puts the current economy at the service of humanity and should provide everyone with a longer, better, more productive, and meaningful existence. This is a call to action for the adoption of a new way of thinking and functioning.

I interviewed Alexandre Lemille, a circular economy expert advocating for a more socially inclusive circular economy. Alexandre believes that emerging markets can leapfrog from the linear economy to a more socially inclusive circular economy, therefore promoting green development alongside economic development.

In emerging markets, it’s easy to believe in a low-tech solution, in fact, low tech isn’t the “bad version” of high tech, it’s a solution that would use less fossil fuel.

Alexandre mentioned an initiative in Kenya called Sanergy that operates in low-income areas, collecting human waste and turning that waste into electricity. This is a truly circular economy with the human aspect in mind.

We [humans] and nature are circular beings.

He also told me about what the term “regenerative economy” means. The next step in a circular economy is to focus on our relationship with the ecosystem and actually regenerate the damages caused by the continuous strain of natural resources brought by the linear economy.

For example, in China, the shrinking bee population has had a massive impact on fruit production; without pollination, there wouldn’t be any fruits for harvest. In Hanyuan county, in China’s Sichuan province, the world’s pear capital, the solution was painstakingly applying pollen to flowers by hand. It’s something that has to be done until bee populations return to normal numbers.

It has come to a point in human history where we need to rethink how we use our resources and how humans are interacting with nature to achieve prosperity. 

Listen to my interview in full here.

Main photo: Amazônia Real from Manaus AM, Brasil, CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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