“The Japanese concept of Mottainai expresses that it is a shame for something to go to waste without having made use of its potential in full — something that happens with regularity in a linear economy.” United Nations Industrial Development Organization.
The increase of solid waste comes from the production of materials due to population growth, urbanization, and living standards. While thousands of products are released per minute, most of them are not produced as a prospectus to be in a recycle, reuse, or even reduce circle.
Reduce and recover!
According to World Bank, “Every year, the world generates over 2 billion tonnes of municipal solid waste.” And precarious practices of solid waste management can cause several health problems for living beings and the environment. Moreover, these materials are disposed of without the proper treatment, thus losing the opportunity to take full advantage of them. In Bolivia, every day, a solid waste dump receives the trash of family homes, public areas, hospitals, markets, etc.
Metrics tonnes of solid waste in Bolivia per month, 2019 - 2021
For that reason, sustainable solutions come forward to reduce the environmental impact of a linear economy of waste.
Redesign and renovate!
When we talk about the three R’s framework, we refer to a way of decreasing waste in the world in a sustainable process. However, the circular economy amplifies this green structure by adding more concepts, according to experts. Due to their opportunities to rebuild capital with life cycle products, the green alternative differs from the current global industry of resource extraction.
First of all, we need to understand our consumer products and their classification. So, what do we mean by solid waste? It is everything that comes from a used and thrown away product. Each type of waste is selected due to its capabilities of recovering. For instance, scrap tires are considered a special waste because of their dangerous components.
Reuse and recycle!
However, scrap tires - from a circular economy focus - can be used to provide damping floors; a sustainability idea from Mamut, a Bolivian social business. Manuel Laredo, CEO of Mamut said to Young American Business Trust, “We are a group of young people that look at these useless tires as a resource, not as trash. Thus, in 2013 we developed, with young Bolivian engineers, damping floors for athletes and children’s eco-parks, for the security of the children.”
Mamut gives us an example of how it works. The circular economy model aims to generate products by restoration. With a green framework for take-make-dispose, it functions as a sustainable alternative for business.
After the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) announcement of the current climatic situation, people must incorporate plans to reduce environmental pressure. When it comes to business investment, we must also take this into account. No matter how fast industries may grow, the most important thing is to generate initiatives that help solve the climate crisis.
In recent years, some Bolivian businesses and projects that follow this model are showing how to design out waste. The main purpose is to create consuming goods and services that minimize people’s environmental footprint.
Markets 4 recycling is a circular project by Swisscontact in Bolivia that aims to strengthen the green business ecosystem with awareness of waste management consumption. At the same time, it wants to encourage local businesses to pursue their circular model. This opportunity can make possible the emergence of green employment in an economic transition.
On the other hand, circular economy contributes to boosting the economy by reducing the cost of raw materials. It supports the public’s responsible consumption by promoting zero waste. It is an eco-friendly process that includes producers’ and consumers’ participation without affecting the environment. So, we are talking about projects that not only benefit business and capital maintenance but also the planet in the long run.
Some institutions, organizations, and enterprises are in charge of working on projects, workshops, and events to enhance circular economy practices. Such as the following:
Kiosco Verde is a platform for institutions interested in the delivery of solid waste and solid waste operators who look for their clients. It works as a contact to intermediate their necessities for their clients to generate proper management of solid waste. This initiative belongs to Cámara Nacional de Industrias in Santa Cruz, Bolivia.
Fundare Santa Cruz encourages workshops on the circular economy. It develops business conferences about green business. It also implements a system of solid waste management.
Aquakit, an environmental Bolivian enterprise, centers on the use of technology and machinery to treat sewage for recycling. The water goes to watering gardens, filling toilets, and cleaning exteriors. With a proper tech treatment, Aquakit can prevent the waste of hydric resources.
Enterprises and businesses that work with recycling scrap metal are Recumet Bolivia, Sarmiento, and Cademet. In the case of glass, Qirueco Top Glass reuses glass bottles to convert them into eco-cups. And last but not least, Ingoqui and Terracycle recycle and treat rubber to distribute to businesses like Mamut.
According to OECD, “Some circular business models have achieved significant market share, but typically only in restricted economic niches.” Over the years, circular economy has demonstrated its benefits, but it has its challenges too. The Bolivian businesses mentioned before exemplify how we can give another purpose to many different waste materials. The change may not be coming as fast as the planet needs, but it’s starting to - little by little.
Furthermore, Claret Condori, president of Red Juvenil de Economía Circular (RED JEC) said that as an organization, all the volunteers were constantly trained to teach Bolivian people what economy circular is about. Condori emphasized that they wanted to encourage Bolivian businesses to implement this green model.
At the beginning of this year in Bolivia, 337.979 businesses were registered in Fundempresa. It’s probable that most of them work with a linear economy. If we don’t rethink ways to solve the economic crisis due to COVID-19 and the climate crisis, “by 2050 two thirds of us will live in cities, consuming 75% of the world’s natural resources, producing 50% of global waste and over 60% of greenhouse gas emissions”, as Ellen MacArthur Foundation said. Now is time to reimagine a world where everyone else contributes to each other taking action, as well as, making strategies for the planet’s sustainability.