Circular economy 'the way to go to reduce environmental degradation'

Economy July 16, 2018 01:00

By WICHIT CHAITRONG
THE NATION

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CIRCULAR ECONOMY, or the reuse and recycling of products, is expected to grow in a big way as consumers, manufacturers and policymakers are becoming increasingly aware of the worsening environment due to expanding economic activities.



Kees Rade, the Netherlands’ ambassador to Thailand, said there was not much debate in Thailand about the circular economy compared to Europe where it is receiving a lot of attention. He said they had experienced the impact of climate change, which had led to rising sea levels, melting of ice sheets in the Antarctica and increasing emission of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere.

A recent study suggested that if the current consumption of global resources continued, the world would be at risk of running out of resources, he said at the “Sustainable Development Symposium 2018” hosted by SCG Group recently. 

Growth of a country’s gross domestic product is a good thing, but the world is also using more of the planet’s limited resources, so we need to look at better resource management, he said. 

The world should give more attention to the circular economy which gives priority to the reuse of resources, he said.

The Netherlands government plans to reduce the use of virgin resources by 50 per cent in 2030, and will reuse 100 per cent of waste by 2050, he said.

To do that, industries will have to introduce smart designs for their products in order to use fewer virgin resources.

They also have to find ways to extend product life and to use waste as raw materials, he said. 

It is projected that the circular economy in the Netherlands will be worth US$7.3 billion (Bt243 billion) and create 54,000 jobs by 2023, he said.

Under the circular economy, natural capital accounting will play a key role, as it would help the market find the true price of products and services. It would reveal the hidden cost of environmental impact, he assured.

It is every important that everybody participate and make a contribution to the circular economy. The government of the Netherlands has already imposed a tax on the use of plastic bags, he said.

Tine Rorvik, innovative and technology director-Europe for SCG’s chemical business, said that this year there were reports of several whales dying in the seas around Thailand. The images of dead whales has raised concerns among people around the world. There is also a report that people in the United States use 500 million plastic straws daily.

She said that she had a chance to meet with people who had initiated “Parley for the Oceans”, which is dedicated to reducing plastic in the oceans. The movement has succeeded in partnering Adidas, one of the leading global sportswear manufacturers. This demonstrates that the public and private sectors and civil society have been working together to address the environment issue, she noted.

She pointed out that for industries, the most important role is the leadership of executives as they are the ones who give the companies direction.

“As chemical producers, we are trying to reduce carbon dioxide gas in the polymer production process and the challenge is we need to have innovation to achieve that,” she added.

Meanwhile, Tadashi Uchida, president of International OVOP Exchange Committee, said Oita city started OVOP – one village, one product – in 1969, with the aim of helping poor communities. This led to many small communities producing and selling their own products. They have also reused their own natural and agricultural resources effectively as well as they could increase their income. Many communities in Thailand have also started to use the circular economy for their farming businesses, he added.