THE CIRCULAR ECONOMY TO AVOID DEPLETION OF NATURAL RESOURCES OF PLANET EARTH

FERNANDO ALCOFORADO, sistema economico de um pais, global education magazine

Fernando Alcoforado 

Member of the Bahia Academy of Education (Brazil). Engineer and Doctor of Territorial Planning and Regional Development from the University of Barcelona (Spain).

e-mail: falcoforado@uol.com.br

Abstract: The purpose of this article is to demonstrate the need for the adoption of Circular Economy in order to avoid the depletion of natural resources of planet Earth and to preserve the environment. To achieve this objective should be used Reverse Logistics which provides for the reuse of waste from the process of production and consumption.

Keywords: Exhaustion of the planet’s natural resources, Linear economy, Circular economy, Reverse logistic.

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A ECONOMIA CIRCULAR PARA EVITAR O ESGOTAMENTO DOS RECURSOS NATURAIS DO PLANETA TERRA

Resumo: O propósito deste artigo é demonstrar a necessidade da adoção da economia circular visando evitar a exaustão dos recursos naturais do planeta Terra e preservar o meio ambiente. Para a consecução deste objetivo deve ser utilizada a logística reversa que prevê a reutilização dos resíduos do processo de produção e do consumo.

Palavras chaves: Exaustão dos recursos naturais do planeta, Economia linear, Economia circular, Logistica reversa.

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  1. Introduction

An indisputable fact is that humanity already consumes more natural resources than the planet can replenish. The current rate of consumption is a threat to the future prosperity of mankind. In the last 45 years, demand for natural resources on the planet doubled due to the high standard of life in rich and emerging countries and the increasing world population. Today humanity uses 50% of the planet’s fresh water. In 40 years will use 80%. For two centuries the extraction of mineral resources has become more intense, removing increasing amounts of nature. The concern is that most of these resources are not renewable, ie they are not replenished by nature. If the pace of extraction continues as it is, humanity will surely see some minerals become extinct. Based on existing reserves today, certain mineral resources already have a possible date to run out, among them we can mention gold, tin, nickel and oil.

Currently, over 80% of the world population lives in countries that use more resources than their own ecosystems can renew. The core capitalist countries (EU, USA and Japan), ecological debtors, have exhausted their own resources and must import them. In the survey of the Global Footprint Network, the Japanese consume 7.1 times more than they have and would need four Italys to supply the Italians. The consumption pattern of developed countries disrupts this balance. An indisputable fact is that humanity has ever consumes more natural resources than the planet can replenish.

The available data on reserves of mineral resources also point to the effect that the Earth is now reaching its limits. Exhaust estimate of mineral resources of the planet Earth is presented in the article Quando os recursos minerais se esgotarão? (When the mineral resources will be exhausted?), published on the website <http://planetasustentavel.abril.com.br/noticia/ambiente/quando-recursos-minerais-se-esgotarao-648952.shtml>, based on information from the US Geological Survey, the US government agency responsible for geological research that crossed information on the annual consumption, mineral reserves available on the planet and its predictable extinction:

1) Platinum (use in surgical materials) – Extinction by 2049

2) Silver (use in the manufacture of mirrors and cutlery) – Extinction in 2016

3) Copper (use in wire and cable and air conditioning ducts) – Extinction in 2027

4) Antimony (use in remote controls and other materials to increase strength) – Extinction 2020

5) Lithium (use in cell phone batteries, laptops and video games) – Extinction in 2053

6) Phosphorus (use in agricultural fertilizers) – Extinction in 2149

7) Uranium (use for electric power generation) – Extinction in 2026

8) Indian (use in smartphones and tablets touch screen screens) – Extinction in 2020

9) Tantalum (use in cameras lenses) – Extinction in 2027

10) Nickel (use in metal alloy coating, electronics such as cell phones) – Extinction in 2064

11) Tin (use in coating metal alloys, such as those used in the soft drink cans) – Extinction 2024

12) Lead (use in car batteries and trucks and welds and bearings) – Extinction in 2015

13) Gold (use as jewelry and computer microchips) – Extinction in 2043

14) Zinc (use to cover alloys, preventing rust that destroy objects like coins) – Extinction in 2041

For these reasons many of planet Earth minerals are coming to an end, which may stop the use of various technologies currently used. As for oil, will last 40 years according to data presented on the website <http://institutoparacleto.org/2013/05/23/o-futuro-do-petroleo/>. Natural gas has reserves that can ensure your production up to 60 years according to the website <http://exame.abril.com.br/economia/noticias/os-10-paises-com-as-maiores-reservas-de-gas-natural-do-mundo>. Coal, in turn, has enough reserves to last 250 years according to the website data <http://carvaomineral.blogspot.com.br/2006/09/reservas-de-carvo-no-mundo.html>. The shale gas in recent exploration in the United States, that could meet the domestic demand of the country for natural gas at current levels of consumption for over 100 years, is extremely negative for the environment because it generates half the carbon emissions from coal, and pollutes the sheets underground aquifers.

All that has just been described on the duration of fossil fuel reserves indicates that, given the longevity of coal, it would be the source of energy to be used in the future when other fossil fuels are depleted, a fact that would aggravate the greenhouse effect in the atmosphere.

  1. Linear Economy and Circular Economy

Traditionally, the production processes are characterized by use of natural (raw material) in the manufacturing products for human consumption which residues resulting are taken to a landfill. This operational dynamics that can be termed as Linear Economy, which is shown in Figure 1 below, tends to contribute to the continued depletion of natural resources of the planet.

 Figure 1- Linear Economy, fernando alcoforado, global education magazine

 

Unlike the Linear Economy model, the Circular Economy is concerned with sustainable development by seeking efficiency in manufacturing products and reusing solid waste contributing in this way to avoid the exhaustion of the planet’s natural resources. The Circular Economy concept is to transform waste into raw materials for the production of new products. As in nature, in which the remains of fruits consumed by animals are decomposed and transformed in fertilizer for plants closing the loop, used appliance parts can be reprocessed and reintegrated into the production chain.

One of the main concepts of the Circular Economy is the Cradle to Cradle (Cradle to Cradle), which argues that innovation is the way to transform the waste in a production chain components and materials to another. Other concepts are important to understand the Circular Economy. One is the Biomimicry, who studies the processes of nature and apply them to solve problems, ie it is to imitate nature to solve human challenges. Another important concept is the Industrial Ecology, which tied the Biomimicry and Cradle to Cradle, aims to create closed-loop processes, designing production systems adapted to local ecosystems.

In Figure 2, it can be seen that in Circular Economy, natural resources, which are used as primary raw materials in the manufacturing process, are transformed into products for human consumption that will generate solid waste that, after it became a secondary raw material, it´s used in manufacturing products, and so on.

Figure 2- Circular Economy, fernando alcoforado, global education magazine

In the Circular Economy, natural resources, which are used as primary raw materials in the manufacturing process, turn into products for human consumption will generate solid waste that after its transformation into secondary raw materials are used in manufacturing products and thus successively. According to Ellen MacArtur Foundation, this new way of thinking about supply chains brings micro and macro economic benefits, as well as stimulates innovation. Products and materials that are now developed should return to production chain. Thus, the extraction of raw materials decreases and natural resources entering the production cycle are used for longer, preserving the environment. The need to recycle and reuse materials promotes the development of new relationships between companies, which are now also suppliers and consumers of materials that will be reincorporated to the production cycle [NAT.GENIUS. Economia Circular (Circular Economy). Posted on the website <http://www.natgenius.com/EconomiaCircular.aspx>].

  1. Reverse logistic

To improve and expand the Circular Economy is essential that consumers, retail businesses, industries and government understand their role. This also means changing the way of creating and using the products: they will no longer be consumed and discarded, but used and processed into new products. Reverse logistics is a way to break with the Linear Economy, where the raw material is extracted, transformed into products and discarded after use. Reverse logistics is the area of ​​logistics which deals with the return of products, packaging or materials at its production center. The Reverse logistics in the recycling process that causes the material to return to different production centers in the form of raw material. Reverse logistics management activities provide for the recycling and removal of waste and management of returns. With a Circular Economy, where everything can be reused, can reduce the extraction of raw materials and waste disposal on the environment.

The Reverse Logistic (RL) is the area of logistics, that is the return of products, packaging materials or to their production center, as is shown in Figure 3 below the RL in the recycling process causes the material to return to different production centers in the form of raw material. Reverse logistics management activities provide for the recycling and removal of waste and management of returns. With a circular economy, where everything can be reused, can reduce the extraction of raw materials and waste disposal on the environment.

Figure 3- Reverse Logistic, FERNANDO ALCOFORADO, global education magazine

  1. Conclusions

Adopting the principles of Circular Economy is critical because of the need of human beings to make better their natural resources to avoid their future exhaustion and not cause so many negative impacts on the environment. To achieve its objectives, the Circular Economy is primarily concerned with the following topics: 1) product development using easily recyclable materials and non-hazardous; 2) Environmental laws that encourage the sector; 3) the return of solid waste to the production chain; and, 4) Treatment and reuse of waste. Many universities in Europe now offer degrees in Circular Economy as is the case in Germany that form Master and PhD in Economics Circular, also known as Waste Economy [PORTAL RESÍDUOS SÓLIDOS. Economia Circular (Circular Economy). Posted on the website <http://www.portalresiduossolidos.com/economy-circular/>].

The Brazilian Institute for Public Law Advanced Studies (Instituto Brasileiro de Altos Estudos de Direito Público) reports that in 2012 about 62 million tons of solid waste were produced in Brazil. According to the Ministry of Environment, only 2% of the material returned to the production chain. Residues which are not recycled end up in landfills (17.8%), controlled landfills (24.2%) and landfills (58%). Failure reuse of solid waste costs the country R$8 billion a year. Second report from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation – nonprofit organization that studies and encourages the adoption of circular economy – 65 billion tons of raw materials were inserted in the productive system worldwide in 2010. Projections indicate that the institute until 2020, amount of raw materials will rise to 82 billion tonnes per year [INSTITUTO BRASILEIRO DE ALTOS ESTUDOS DE DIREITO PÚBLICO. Sustentabilidade: Resíduos sólidos: Economia Circular: Novo negócio: Embraco (Sustainability: Solid waste: Circular Economy: New business: Embraco). Published on the website <http://www.altosestudos.com.br/?p. = 52902>].

Nat. Genius advises that the implementation of Circular Economy is not a task that involves only the companies. It is necessary that all involved in the life cycle of a product to understand their role in this new model. In a world where the relations of production and trade are becoming more global, the need to disseminate the concept of Circular Economy becomes increasingly present, large-scale, including the consumer population. The spread of the concept of Circular Economy has occurred in several countries. Among them, China, where the Circular Economy is part of the Promotion of Clean Production Law, enacted in 2002. Among the measures of public awareness are eco-labeling of products, the dissemination of information on environmental issues in the communications vehicles and the Cleaner Production courses offered by educational institutions, which are designed to train professionals familiar with the Circular Economy [NAT.GENIUS. Economia Circular (Circular Economy). Posted on the website <http://www.natgenius.com/EconomiaCircular.aspx>] .

Nat. Genius also said that in Brazil, it was implemented the National Solid Waste Policy, 2010 law, which aims to ensure shared responsibility for the lifecycle of products, reverse operation and the sectoral agreement. The shared responsibility for the lifecycle of products provides that all agents of the production cycle, consumers and public services have responsibilities to minimize the volume of solid waste and environmental impact.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

BLOG PARACLETO. O futuro do petróleo (The future of oil). Published on the website <http://institutoparacleto.org/2013/05/23/o-futuro-do-petroleo>.

EXTRAÇÃO DE CARVÃO MINERAL. Reservas de carvão no mundo (Coal reserves in the world). Published on the website <http://carvaomineral.blogspot.com.br/2006/09/reservas-de-carvo-no-mundo.html>.

EXAME.COM. Os 10 países com as maiores reservas de gás natural do mundo (The 10 countries with the largest natural gas reserves in the world). Published on the website <http://exame.abril.com.br/economia/noticias/os-10-paises-com-as-maiores-reservas-de-gas-natural-do-mundo>.

INSTITUTO BRASILEIRO DE ALTOS ESTUDOS DE DIREITO PÚBLICO. Sustentabilidade: Resíduos sólidos: Economia Circular: Novo negócio: Embraco (Sustainability: Solid waste: Circular Economy: New business: Embraco). Published on the website <http://www.altosestudos.com.br/?p. = 52902>.

NAT.GENIUS. Economia Circular (Circular Economy). Published on the website <http://www.natgenius.com/EconomiaCircular.aspx>.

PLANETA SUSTENTÁVEL. Quando os recursos minerais se esgotarão? (When the mineral resources will be exhausted?). Published on the website <http://planetasustentavel.abril.com.br/noticia/ambiente/quando-recursos-minerais-se-esgotarao-648952.shtml>.

PORTAL RESÍDUOS SÓLIDOS. Economia Circular (Circular Economy). Published on the website <http://www.portalresiduossolidos.com/economy-circular/>.

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*Fernando Alcoforado , member of the Bahia Academy of Education, engineer and doctor of Territorial Planning and Regional Development from the University of Barcelona, ​​a university professor and consultant in strategic planning, business planning, regional planning and planning of energy systems, is the author of Globalização (Editora Nobel, São Paulo, 1997), De Collor a FHC- O Brasil e a Nova (Des)ordem Mundial (Editora Nobel, São Paulo, 1998), Um Projeto para o Brasil (Editora Nobel, São Paulo, 2000), Os condicionantes do desenvolvimento do Estado da Bahia(Tese de doutorado. Universidade de Barcelona, http://www.tesisenred.net/handle/10803/1944, 2003), Globalização e Desenvolvimento (Editora Nobel, São Paulo, 2006), Bahia- Desenvolvimento do Século XVI ao Século XX e Objetivos Estratégicos na Era Contemporânea (EGBA, Salvador, 2008), The Necessary Conditions of the Economic and Social Development-The Case of the State of Bahia (VDM Verlag Dr. Muller Aktiengesellschaft & Co. KG, Saarbrücken, Germany, 2010), Aquecimento Global e Catástrofe Planetária (P&A Gráfica e Editora, Salvador, 2010), Amazônia Sustentável- Para o progresso do Brasil e combate ao aquecimento global (Viena- Editora e Gráfica, Santa Cruz do Rio Pardo, São Paulo, 2011), Os Fatores Condicionantes do Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social (Editora CRV, Curitiba, 2012) and Energia no Mundo e no Brasil (Editora CRV, Curitiba, 2015).

This article was published on August 12, 2015, for the International Youth Day, in Global Education Magazine.

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