The volume of urban waste is growing every single day, there is a need for all the major cities in the world to adopt a recycling initiative, to ensure the waste is turned into something more helpful, than just being released directly into the environment. This is the major role of a circular economy – to use waste as much as possible, and transform it into something more valuable. The idea is basically to use and re-use materials as many times as possible to ensure little to no waste release into the atmosphere.
With a rapid, sometimes uncontrolled growth in population and urbanization, wastes in the cities are increasing at an alarming rate. It is a silent problem that is growing rapidly by the day and according to research by World Bank, municipal solid waste is expected to rise to 2.2bn tonnes by 2025. This is nearly double the waste that was generated in 2012. to curb this, there is a need to adopt a circular economy, and here we discuss ways in which governments, municipals, industries, and citizens can transform waste into value.
The most fundamental message we need to pick from the circular economy craze is that ‘in nature, there is no waste.’ There is always something that can be made out of what we deem as waste. We just need to be more innovative and creative in the transformation of waste into value. Nothing gets thrown away, as waste from one organism can be a raw material for another. We have to apply the ecological model to the process of recycling. In The Kenyan market, Kibos Sugar & Allied Industries Ltd of Chatthe Group is a leading example in embracing the circular economy. It produces a number of by-products also known as waste; like thick syrup-molasses, and bagasse from the stalks of sugarcane. Molasses are consequently used to produce alcohol; the bagasse is also used in cogenerating 3 MW of electricity alongside the production of paper and packaging.
A confectionery could also use their waste products to produce another product that can be consumed. For instance, chocolate waste can be used to create new products like bio-fuel, fertilizer, animal feed, cosmetics, and even art and decor. An interesting example is Ferrero, an Italian Confectionery. After producing their signature product Nutella, they use the by-products to make chocolate bars which have become a brand name across the world – Ferrero Rocher. Another brilliant idea is for companies that produce wooden merchandise. Instead of throwing away all the wooden chippings and sawdust, they could instead transform them into wood pellets and sold as fuel for homes. Something that used to be thrown away can be transformed into a valuable commodity to increase revenue and reduce waste in the process.
Industries can also find new ways of cleaning and re-using their own water during their processes instead of releasing it to flow into our rivers, thus contaminating and risking the lives of water animals. With innovation and creativity, the industry is able to find a smart way of removing impurities from water used in production, purification, and re-use. This not only saves water and money, in reality, but they are also saving the environment from unnecessary contamination – no pollution, no waste policy applies.
The notion of a circular economy is to recapture all materials and energy, use, and re-use until only a little portion of the waste is released into the environment. Industries have to be creative enough to find ways of producing more products from waste materials. A lot of companies and citizens are quickly embracing the circular economy – for instance, in homes, -you will find old sweaters transformed into fillers for dog or cat beds, worn-out gloves transformed into fire-resistant tuck liners, old tires given a new life as rubber sandals and many others.
The Kenyan government is also becoming enthusiastic about the potential benefits of the circular economy. Industries are encouraged to embrace it both for environmental benefit and that of the organization in question. Industries need to focus on increasing productivity and being innovative with waste products, in order to produce more using less. A circular economy is an answer to the begging question of how to curb global warming and climate change.