Opinion space about water and its challenges

19 January 2017

How to speed up the move toward the Circular Economy


Global Footprint Network has been warning about the worldwide ecological footprint for years. This concept refers to a measurement created by Mathis Wackernagel and William Rees in 1990, which makes it possible to determine the pressure exerted by an individual, a city or a country on the planet’s resources, obviously including water, among others.

Starting from 2012 Global Footprint Network data, the map illustrating these lines shows the ecological deficit (in red) or the ecological reserve (in green) of the world’s different countries. This deficit occurs when the population’s ecological footprint exceeds the biocapacity of the area to supply it.

It is clear that we need to act. But, what can we do to prevent this ecological deficit? How can we make the red areas on this map begin to become green? We just need to follow a plan: speed up the transformation toward the circular economy.

First, it is essential to know the inflows and outflows of the systems (of materials, waste, emissions, energy…) to be able to extend the different life cycles of a product or activity. On applying a life cycle analysis, we can know the environmental impacts that we produce and define a strategy to reduce and/or eliminate them.

The industrial and business sector plays a key role in this strategy, since it can adopt, among other measures, a firm commitment to eco-design, which implies innovating in the conceptualization of a product or service, the objective being to minimize its environmental impact from the start. For example, we can save resources in the production and use of products.

It is also essential to adopt new models, promoting collaborative environments, as we do not act in isolation. Collaborative environments are necessary to be able to close production cycles.

A collective commitment by various sectors of society is essential in order to guarantee the transformation of the production cycles, but so is an individual commitment. We can all commit ourselves to this transformation from a linear to a circular economy, protecting resources through responsible consumption, giving second opportunities to products that are not of interest or which stop working by means of creative and viable alternatives and educating and raising the awareness of our environment. In short, it is a question of considering the environmental impacts of our everyday decisions.


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