What is a circular economy, and why do we need one?

What is a circular economy, and why do we need one?
At Circla, our main mission is to use a revolutionary refill model to help create a circular economy. It’s basically in our name.
But before we achieve a circular economy — in fact, before we even explain what a circular economy is — it’s important to understand why refills are the way forward when it comes to doing our best for the planet. 
It all starts with single-use packaging. You’ll find it in everything from straws to shopping bags to the bottles lined up by your bath. And guess what? As far as sustainability is concerned, single-use plastic is public enemy number one.

What’s so bad about single-use?

Single-use plastic is rubbish. You might have heard. In a crowded field of things which are bad for the environment, it’s one of the worst — yet we can’t seem to stop using it. 
Humans produce nearly 400 million tons of plastic every year, with an estimated 50% of that being for single-use purposes. And with 90% of all packaging thrown away after just one use, the results are verging on catastrophic for the planet.
You might have seen the pictures of seagulls trapped in plastic can-rings, but the effects are even worse at a larger scale. Single-use plastic contributes to carbon emissions at every stage of its lifecycle, and what ends up in our oceans kills millions of sea animals annually and contaminates our seafood with dangerous micro-plastic.
It’s an unsustainable industry, and it’s only getting worse. In a decade, the amount of plastic in our oceans is expected to triple, with plastics outweighing fish in our oceans by 2050. If we don’t act soon, single-use plastic may be single-handedly responsible for the decline and death of our seas. Next, our planet.
So, we do away with plastic, right? Wrong. Whether it's plastic or not, any type of single-use packaging has a negative effect on the environment, because of the sheer amount of energy used to manufacture it.
So far, so bad for the environment. And despite what you’ve heard, recycling isn’t the answer, either.

Wait, what’s wrong with recycling?

There’s nothing wrong with recycling, in theory. But that ‘in theory’ is pulling a lot of weight, as most people would be horrified to find out how little what they ‘recycle’ actually gets recycled.
Only 9% of plastic waste is recycled. Yes, 9%. And that’s a stat for all time, according to peer-reviewed journal Science Advances. They found that, out of the 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic ever produced, 6.3 billion has become plastic waste — 91% of which was never recycled.
So, what happens to the rest? It ends up in landfills, or as litter — which usually means it ends up in the ocean. While recycling would be nice, choosing between your regular bin and your recycling bin may as well be making a choice between landfill and, well, landfill.
But there is a different way. By building a circular economy, we can create another choice when it comes to your used pots, bottles and packaging: landfill, or refill.

What is a circular economy?

It’s exactly what it sounds like: a perfect circle, from buying a product to the point where you’d usually throw that product away. Instead of binning packaging, we transfer it to a new way of management — keeping valuable resources in use, and ensuring a whole generation of waste is stopped in its tracks.
For consumers, the whole thing centres around reusable, refillable goods in packaging made to last. That could be kiln jars filled with food at your local zero waste shop, or our convenient, refillable alternatives to the bathroom products you’d usually associate with binnable plastic bottles.
And beauty is a worthy corner of the industry to start in. After all, a 2018 report by Zero Waste Week found that the beauty industry alone churns out 142 billion pieces of packaging each year, most of it never to be reused. 
With our packaging-free toothpaste, zero-plastic shampoos and an array of cosmetics which you can easily refill, we’re trying to make a circular economy that little bit more achievable. But we’re only one part of a much bigger picture.

What can I do to help build a circular economy?

First things first, don’t bin all your single-use plastic in a panic. You’re always better using up what you have rather than buying brand-new products and scrapping what you already have.
Then, once you’ve finished something — whether that’s your deodorant, your conditioner or your last pack of makeup pads — you can start switching to a more sustainable lifestyle, one refillable product at a time.
Pretty soon, you’ll be part of something bigger than a lone pot of face scrub or a single bottle of shampoo. You’ll be contributing to the circular economy, and helping the planet with every single piece of single-use plastic you save.
To build a circular economy and join the refill revolution, browse our entire range of refillable, plastic-free products here
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