Circular economy – think locally, act globally

Photo: courtesy of Olga Gavrić

Global warming, environmental devastation and ecosystem pollution have contributed to actualizing the circularity concept. The circular economy (CE) seeks to replace the conventional linear model, as it assumes the reuse of waste as an input in the following production process.

In this regard, it is based on two principles: efficient management of resources and waste reduction.

In other words, CE encourages a more rational use of limited natural resources. It also results in lower pollution costs by reducing waste from production and consumption. The wide application of the circular economy in various segments of the economy contributes to accomplishing sustainable development goals.

Several prerequisites need to be met to implement CE effectively. To begin with, it is important to define the legal framework and institutional support. Second, innovations are significant for achieving circularity. Namely, this connection is like a two-way street because the further application of this principle promotes innovations and boosts micro and macro competitiveness. Third, there has to be communication and cooperation between companies, consumers and other stakeholders in all stages of the product life cycle. Finally, educating the population is an indispensable link in awakening environmental awareness and expanding ecological perspectives.


Circular economy and eco-products

One of the main features of the circular economy is the creation of green (eco) products. Consequently, eco-products have a minimal environmental impact in all phases of the product’s life cycle. Also, green products must be clearly labelled and declared to identify and inform customers more easily. In general, eco-products differ from classic products in terms of their properties and added value for the consumers. The circular economy has various economic effects: it contributes to the development of new markets and distribution channels, and it facilitates the emergence of new business models and higher employment. In practice, recycling is often transformed through the circular economy process. However, recycling is only one of the segments of a much broader notion of this concept.

Photo-illustration: Pexels (Vie studio)

Many global economies, including the European Union, have accomplished significant results in circularity. On the other hand, Serbia is in the initial stages of development. In this regard, concrete steps and developments have been made in previous years. Last year, the Circular Economy Action Plan was written, stipulating nationwide activities and measures until 2024. Implementing this Action Plan is a kind of support for the green transition in the Republic of Serbia, as well as the accomplishment of the Green Agenda goals in the Western Balkans. In parallel with the Plan and cooperation with the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Serbian Ministry of Environmental Protection selected nine projects following a public call to submit innovations in the circular economy. The common feature of the selected projects is the reduction of greenhouse gases, waste generation and disposal costs, and less environmental degradation. In addition to environmental aspects, some of the projects also have a social component, thus proving the initial premise of sustainability.

The transition from a linear to a circular model presupposes clearly defining its implementers. With that in mind, the main implementers in Serbia are, in most cases, corporations and large production systems, as well as small entrepreneurs whose importance is not negligible. Namely, despite local influence and small market share, small producers and new brands of eco-products not only have a lower ecological footprint and degrade the environment less but also contribute to more efficient waste management and rational use of resources, as the basic premises of CE.

Read the story in the new issue of the Energy portal Magazine CIRCULAR ECONOMY