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Reusing Resources

Innovators around the world are changing the way we think about waste

Across the globe, we extract 100 billion tonnes of raw materials each year, and most of these are wasted, with only 8.6% making their way back into the economy at the end of their life. The problem is set to get worse in the coming decades, with waste generation forecast to increase by 70% over the coming 30 years thanks to economic development, population growth, and urbanisation. 

Behind this vast waste mountain is our linear 'take-make-waste' economic model that ascribes little value to used materials and promotes high levels of consumption and extraction. Thankfully, there is an alternative in the form of the circular economy.

In nature there is no such thing as waste, only resources in the wrong place; everything is reused or recycled. By learning from the natural world, we can design systems that promote responsible consumption and production and re-circulate materials back into the economy, moving from a linear to a circular approach to resource use.  

We need to think about waste on multiple levels: from an individual product to a household, all the way up to cities and global supply chains. And we also need to consider different waste streams, from food, plastic, and fashion waste, to water, sewage, and heat. The final ingredient is traceability, as tracking and documentation is essential for mapping flows of waste materials and ensuring compliance with regulations and standards. 

 RE:TV’s latest theme, RE:using Resources, will look at innovations inspired by nature which are bringing the circular economy to life; from using new materials like mycelium to consume waste and create packaging, to using agricultural by-products and designing modular fashion systems. These solutions are showing us how we can reduce our ecological footprint and safeguard the planet for future generations.

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