Episode 1 – Civil Engineering and Circular Economy.

Transcript:

The upcoming years for us will be critical. As we are increasing non degradable pollutants, soon there will be a time when the earth will turn into a bin. 

Hi, my name is Charlie and, in this podcast, we are discussing, why should we move to circular economy.

Before we discuss about the circular economy, lets see what is a liner economy and why it failed.

A linear economy is where, most of the organizations take the raw material, make products and dispose. Unfortunately, goods produced with the linear economy end up in landfill. Suppose, you purchase a car, you drive it for a few years. After a few years you bought another one. Slowly your old car will lose its value and ultimately will broke down due to lack of attention.

Now you want to get rid of your old car. You will throw your car in a scrapyard. The car will be there for many years and will not decompose.

Now when you understood what is a linear economy, let’s see what is circular economy and why should we move towards the circular economy.

Cost Management, Circular Economy, Whole Life Cycle Costing, Civil Engineering, Enabling Works, Pragmatic Approach
Cost Management, Circular Economy, Whole Life Cycle Costing, Civil Engineering, Enabling Works, Pragmatic Approach

 

What is the circular economy?

If we go by the definition, then.

The circular economy is a model of production and consumption, which involves sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing and recycling existing materials and products as long as possible. In this way, the whole life cycle costing of products is extended, and its value for money maximised. In practice, it implies reducing waste to a minimum.

A good example of circular economy is living world. In the living world there is no landfill. Rather, materials flow. One is eaten by the other. Whereas, if anything dies it decomposes and goes back to the nature after death.

Why should we follow the circular economy rather than linear economy?

Nature follows circular economy but as humans we have linear approach. We take resource, make products and dispose it. By this approach we are making the environment toxic.

We think that resources are unlimited. But that is not the case. We all know, if we use to exploit our resources soon it will be over.

Therefore, we should reuse and redesign the old products.

We need a new approach to product whole life cycle costing.

That’s where the circular economy comes in. Circular business models design out waste, lengthen product usage timeframes and return materials to the product whole life cycle costing. Increasingly, consumers are demanding this type of stewardship from companies they are keen to do business with.

The “circular economy” is a big, structural change requiring a shift in mindset and investments. Instead of mining and harvesting, manufacturing materials into products, using the products and discarding them, in a linear way, we can keep using the same materials over and over in a more circular way. The first advantage is cost savings: used materials are almost certainly cheaper than virgin materials. The second is availability: waste materials are as available as the products we are finished using. We don’t have to import them from a war zone or a politically uncomfortable trading partner. The third is innovation: waste materials can solve problems in new ways. 

1. Renewable Energy is Growing

Here’s an example of applying the circular economy concept to tires: scrap tire material can be used in asphalt. The improved, rubberized asphalt has been found to respond better to temperature changes, producing less potholes, and to drain rainwater better than other asphalt.

Both potholes and rain accumulation can be unsafe for drivers. So old tires not only can find a new use, avoiding landfill, but they can help make driving safer. This is a typical example of how circular economy delivers value for money through the whole life cycle costing of the product..

The fifth annual Circularity Gap Report, published by a group called Circle Economy, says that only 8.6% of the economy is circular, meaning more than 90% of materials extracted and used are thrown away. With rising consumption, materials use has nearly quadrupled in 50 years, according to the report. That means that over 90% of materials extracted and used represent a business opportunity: inventing new markets for them. Waste can be used to make new products, packaging, building materials, and more. 

Accenture has estimated the circular economy to be a $4.5 trillion business opportunity, with all kinds of ways to transform a problem into a resource. 

Cost Management, Circular Economy, Whole Life Cycle Costing, Civil Engineering, Enabling Works, Pragmatic Approach
Cost Management, Circular Economy, Whole Life Cycle Costing, Civil Engineering, Enabling Works, Pragmatic Approach

2. Renewable Energy is Growing

Renewable energy has come a long way, with prices down, job numbers up, and advancements in battery storage that now make it possible to rely on continuous energy. Engineers at Stanford University recently developed solar cells that can produce energy at night through a process involving temperature differences.

A company called Re-wind is using scrap wind turbine blades in civil engineering projects, finding innovative ways to recycle them. Battery recycling is scaling fast, and US sales of plug-in electric vehicles nearly doubled between 2020 and 2021. 

With gas prices up and supply chains in turmoil, the decarbonization transition represents an economic opportunity reminiscent of a war effort: such a spike in demand can supercharge the economy. In fact, President Biden has invoked the Defence Production Act to jumpstart domestic mining of materials needed in batteries: lithium, nickel, cobalt, graphite and manganese. America needs EV charging stations, grid upgrades, recycling facilities, organic materials, meat substitutes: an endless list of new products and services for a decarbonized world. 

Cost Management, Circular Economy, Whole Life Cycle Costing, Civil Engineering, Enabling Works, Pragmatic Approach
Cost Management, Circular Economy, Whole Life Cycle Costing, Civil Engineering, Enabling Works, Pragmatic Approach

3. Car Electric

A week on a small island driving a plug-in electric car past gas stations advertising £ 1.80 per litre brings a pause for reflection. If energy were free, people could spend more money on food. The poverty rate would immediately decline. The island could invest in solar powered desalination plants to shore up scarce water supply. More fresh water would be good for agriculture. 

The sun and wind are free and infinite. Investing in the innovation needed to deploy these sources of energy, and hydrogen and nuclear energy, makes enormous business sense. It also makes a lot of sense from the national security perspective of energy independence. What is difficult is shifting investments and government support from the entrenched fossil fuel industry into renewable energy infrastructure. Change doesn’t come easily, even when it makes this much sense.

Since renewable energy, electric vehicles, circular economy, and other sustainability measures make such good business sense, investors are piling in for the money. Environmental, social and governance (ESG) funds continued to draw record investments. “U.S. sustainable funds netted nearly $70 billion for the year, a 35% increase over 2020’s high-water mark,” reported Morningstar. 

Cost Management, Circular Economy, Whole Life Cycle Costing, Civil Engineering, Enabling Works, Pragmatic Approach
Cost Management, Circular Economy, Whole Life Cycle Costing, Civil Engineering, Enabling Works, Pragmatic Approach

Civil Engineering contribution in Circular Economy

Dubai: The Dutch Circular Day, organized by Holland Circular Hotspot at the Expo 2020 Dubai as part of the trade mission to Dubai and Abu Dhabi endorsed the momentum and commitment of stakeholders to promote a full-fledged transition towards a circular economy where the synergy between the Construction & Infrastructure and Plastics & Waste Management sectors played a key role in its consolidation.

Need for circular economy

With a growing population, a rising middle class and urbanization, the built environment is a crucial sector to consider when re-building our economy than pre-pandemic. Urban planners, architects and engineering firms are developing solutions for circular construction and infrastructure, making use of new business models, digitalization of materials and buildings, and eco-friendly construction materials. The Netherlands is seen as a living lab for new circular solutions.

Like the UAE, the Netherlands is one of the most ambitious countries in the global circular movement. The circular economy creates a new business model which rethinks production processes from source to end product. At present, we endeavour to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Ultimately, products in the future will be designed in such a way that facilitates reusing, remanufacturing or recycling procedures at the end of their whole life cycle costing.

“Climate change, loss of biodiversity and a lack of scarce materials, show us on a daily base that we need to change from a ‘take, make and dispose-economy’ towards keeping materials in the loop for a longer time.

Therefore, today’s topic of how to move towards a circular economy is extremely important” said Ruben Dubelaar, Senior Advisor from Holland Circular Hotspot during the opening session of the Netherlands Circular Economy Day.

Ruben Dubelaar, Senior Advisor from Holland Circular Hotspot

Both Meera Ibrahim AlShuweihi, Environmental Researcher from the UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE) and Peter Díez, Director of International Affairs from the Netherlands Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, agreed on the importance and high priority that should be attributed to the acceleration of the transition towards a circular economy.

The fundamental takeaways centred on how circular collaborative efforts between business organizations, knowledge institutions and government authorities can help solve the climate crisis.

We have to rethink about our operating system. Maybe we can open new horizons instead of being trapped in the same problem.

We have the power to recreate and redesign our future.

With that note I would like to end my points here. See you in my next podcast episode.

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