Closed Loop Manufacturing: The Future Of Design Is Circular

In the current, product focused economy, we are losing many of the valuable materials we use to make products, and often after just one short use. In industries such as fashion and plastic packaging, more than 80% of all materials in our products and services are destined for landfill or incinerators, with a significant amount also leaking out of the system and into natural environments. These habits are made worse by rising level of consumption. As a whole, we go through millions of products a year, many of which result in waste on our planet.

Consumerism, or more specifically the consumption of products that end up in landfill, contributes to an ongoing erosion our environment. As the demand for items grows, so does the need to manufacture them. Greater levels of consumption and, as a result, higher levels of production, require larger inputs of energy and materials, and produce greater quantities of waste by-products.

Emissions of pollutants, increased land-use and deforestation, and accelerated climate change are all potential outcomes to this practice.

Viewed as an increasingly popular and viable solution, the concept of a transition to a global circular economy has soared in relevance among consumers and industry leaders alike.

A circular economy has the ability to offer new and efficient climate mitigation solutions that have been mostly overlooked yet are urgently needed.

Circular economy business models offer a clear road map to meeting our climate goals and eliminating the greenhouse gases generated by the extraction, processing, manufacturing, and landfilling of products by keeping existing materials and resources in play. These business models produce economic value and promote innovation. Even better, circular business model companies are gaining traction at a rapid pace, signaling an industry and consumer prioritization of the philosophy.

The proposition of a circular economy essentially rests on the notion that many of the world's waste issues that pertain to the economy could be reduced through the imposition of a closed loop production systemWhat Is Closed Loop Production?

Closed loop production methods recycle material waste generated throughout the manufacturing process to produce additional items as well as utilize recycled goods to produce new ones. Businesses that use a closed-loop system recycle the same materials repeatedly to create new items.

The recycling of aluminum cans is a good example of a closed-loop recycling process. Aluminum may be reused to make new cans, with minimal material deterioration and waste production. Closed Loop Manufacturing is recognized for its core principles of putting value back into materials, increasing recycling rates and encouraging the reuse of materials in better designed products.

An economy in which little no waste is produced is known as a closed-loop economy. Everything may be shared, repaired, reused or recycled in such an economic model.

The notion of closing the loop, otherwise referred to as transitioning from a conventional linear system to a circular one, is gaining traction in the field of sustainable design and production.

Closing the loop involves moving from traditional design, which focused on the linear model for design and manufacturing – make, use, and discard – to how the disposal stage may be used to create a new product.

Growing Calls For Change

Increasing talk regarding the mitigation of current linear economy challenges has pressured more major companies and world leaders into integrating this philosophy of reduced to zero waste in future decisions.

Consumer outcry from problems such as excessive consumer waste, inefficient recycling systems, right to repair, and extended product life are incentivizing more major players to invest in more sustainable ways of operating. Many find circular economy fundamentals a solution for these symptoms.

What consumers want to see in a sustainable system is accelerated and real commitment and action towards designing and building a future economy and society where products are designed for use, as-a-service offering, recycling, remaking, re-use and the elimination of waste via 100% sustainable energy.

It certainly isn't an easy transition, but given the current state of affairs, it is becoming a necessity to both environmental and human wellbeing.

Experts are saying that we are at the beginning of a long, circular economy transition. The process entails multiple phases, each of which present their own advancements.

Shift To Circular Intent

One of the easiest approaches that can be employed to bolster economic environmentalism is the shift and prioritization to circular design and intent. This entails the following.

Sharing: Make it possible for consumers to share access to goods, allowing them to use them more frequently.

Product As A Service: Offer consumers access or outcomes while still maintaining ownership of the product.

Circular Materials: Replace single-lifecycle material inputs with renewable, bio-based, or entirely recyclable materials.

Resource Recovery: Recover important resources or energy from waste products or by-products.

Product Life Extension: Repair, upgrade, and resell equipment and components to extend the usable life of products and components.

Technology For Better Management

The ability to recover essential resources from waste is critical for creating Closed-Loop business models. The flip side of the issue is that our capacity to access ‘waste' streams is limited by our ability to track materials and by-products throughout the value chain. Existing technologies like radiofrequency identification (RFID) chips and global positioning systems (GPS) are useful, while newer ones such as nanosensors linked to the Internet of Things (IoT) and blockchain promise to provide much more tracking power, data security, and precision. This can provide the opportunity to better track and manage waste production, movement and reuse, resulting in both better material management and supply chain oversight.

Ideally, what would result from this approach would be a 100% circular system powered by an intelligent, decentralized network, capable of massively limiting byproducts of the manufacturing industry. By employing appropriate technologies, it becomes possible for designers to build systems that are almost entirely self-provisioning. This would submerge waste production into non-existence by harnessing all potential value from products at each stage in their life cycle.

Currently, companies are just starting to adopt this strategy, but the benefits of doing so are becoming increasingly apparent. As resources become scarcer and consumer demand increases, moving towards a circular economy is not just an option anymore; it's a necessity for success in the long term.

As a society, we note that numerous environmental damages, such as mismanaged waste, excessive energy use as well as inefficient transport processes and packaging can be reduced through the establishment of closed-loop systems.

Closed-loop systems seek sustainability by simultaneously improving economic and environmental outcomes, an ideal solution for the capitalist, yet environmentally vulnerable human species.

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