Forbes notes unidirectional supply chains' burden on planet

As consumption ramps up in line with exploding populations a circular economy is critical to the wellbeing of our planet and its people

A recent Forbes article defends the notion that unidirectional supply chains are getting harder for our planet to bear.

The article says: "the good news is that we have discovered a way out of this self-defeating carelessness—the trick is putting it into practice. The end of wasteful consumption requires buy-in from manufacturers, partners and customers alike."

"As things stand today," it states, "manufacturers too often make products from raw materials without a plan for what happens after their lifecycle ends, products no longer in use are too often discarded and the ecological consequences are too often an afterthought.

"That’s why more than 20 million tons of e-waste head to landfills every year."

The circular model of production and consumption differs from the traditional linear economy, which is one-directional and depletes resources. In contrast, the circular economy regenerates resources by refurbishing, repairing, reusing, and recycling materials and products. The US Environmental Protection Agency describes the circular economy as keeping materials, products and services in circulation for as long as possible.

Toyota Motor Corporation exemplifies the circular economy approach by implementing the four R's: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Recover. Toyota designs its vehicles with an easy-to-dismantle concept and prioritizes parts and materials that can be reused or recycled.

The company also reconditions and reuses automatic transmissions and recycles parts from hybrid powertrains.

The circular economy not only benefits the planet but also mitigates disruptions associated with one-directional consumption, such as labor shortages and shipping delays.

Furthermore, profitability and sustainability need not be mutually exclusive. With growing consumer and government support for sustainable solutions, there is ample opportunity for offerings that prioritize people, planet, and prosperity.

According to the Boston Consulting Group, the market for sustainable products is larger than currently estimated, and the World Economic Forum projects that the circular economy could represent a market worth US$4.5tn by 2030 - endowing the circular economy with both an ethical as well as economic argument.

It's high time.

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