A call to action from Mpact Recycling

Visions of a circular future: Every industry needs to embrace circularity, writes John Hunt, managing director, Mpact Recycling.

Mpact Recycling – John Hunt

In an age where environmental concerns are at the fore, our team at Mpact Recycling urges various industry sectors to visualise the potential of circularity beyond packaging as the basis of a more innovative, sustainable, and resilient world.

Not only a compelling and provocative thought, but a tangible destination for the collecting, sorting, and recycling journey of waste.

In recognition of Global Recycling Day, Mpact Recycling encourages businesses to continue adopting circular principles. The circular economy is inclusive, and it offers industries worldwide the opportunity to reimagine products, processes, and systems, and create a more sustainable and prosperous future for all.

Technology

Consumer tech is one of the fastest-moving industries, with an alarmingly short amount of time between market entry and market saturation or standardisation when it comes to innovation and product or technological developments.

The most expensive smartphone, television or computer available in 2014, doesn’t come close to an entry-level product made in 2024. At the same time, products are pivoting to “smart”, silicon-based modes of operation. Rapid development means that it’s impossible to “future-proof” even the most expensive products. Between the upgrade obsession and constant advancements in the tech space we balance quality of life with quantity of waste.

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Textiles and fashion

Fashion was more sustainable than it is today, before trends were harnessed by industry to artificially stimulate buying culture, people kept only a small selection of clothes (and textile products in general). Consumers relied on artisans like tailors and haberdashers to keep clothing in a healthy, wearable state and clothing was rarely thrown away. Every item was designed to last. Handing clothing down to younger family members wasn’t just viable, it was the norm.

Today, fashion is an industry that has become notorious for its lack of sustainability. The term ‘fast fashion’, relating to the increased cycle of production, retail, and discarding of clothes, continues to drive the creation of waste.

We have the technology to break down existing clothing into their base materials, which could then be remade into new, fashion-forward, garments over numerous cycles – why are we not using it?

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Agriculture and food

Before grocery stores and supermarkets we lived off crops of grain, fruits and vegetables. We used  seeds and cuttings, reared livestock, and catered for our own eggs, meat, dairy, and hide.

The shift from agrarianism to consumerism has changed our relationship with food to one defined by excess and waste. It’s not just food packaging going to landfills (these are, fortunately, mostly recyclable and the packaging industry is working towards solutions that ensure that all packaging is recyclable), but the food itself – a lot of it perfectly edible, but not recyclable.

One solution for this is mainstream adaptation to artificial foods. The artificial meat industry already exists and is currently thriving as a novelty, served in expensive restaurants and wealthy homes. The potential of cultured meat as a mainstream product, however, is vast – offering truly affordable, sustainable access to protein that’s not associated with deforestation and habitat destruction for grazing land.

Construction

Landfills are mostly comprised of construction waste like bricks, concrete, tiles, metal and wood – so finding ways to repurpose these materials is crucial for sustainable development.

A brilliant example of repurposing? Container homes. Many people utilise old shipping containers for all manner of building as they’re cheap, structurally sound, relatively modular, and durable. The problem with containers however, is they’re only available in set sizes, offering few options with regard to room layout.

Recycling could be a crucial part of construction if the technology to convert rubble back into base building materials existed. This tech would produce high-quality materials that could be used in construction projects, making for an eco-friendly and cost-effective solution. More importantly, this would keep rubble out of landfills, minimising the compound environmental impact of construction projects.

Towards a circular future

The circular future presents a transformative vision for industries worldwide, where innovation, sustainability, and circular design principles intersect to create a more resilient and eco-conscious global landscape. By adopting a circular approach, we can rethink the way we produce, consume, and dispose of products, ultimately creating a more sustainable and prosperous future for all.

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