According to the Circularity Gap Report 2021, the circular economy currently accounts for just 8.6 % of the entire world economy, reflecting the urgent need to find ways to make global resource extraction and processing more sustainable. This is lower than in 2019 by some 5%, which reads for a rather depressing statistic.
If we don’t globally adopt circular principles and practices and continue with the current linear economy, we are headed towards a 3- to 6-degree temperature increase, emitting 65 billion tonnes of Green House Gas Emissions (GHGs) in 2030. There requires a seismic shift and systemic thinking to prevent this grim, almost apocalyptic picture, which is fast turning into a reality.
Along with the nationally determined contributions (NDCs), the solutions the circular economy can deliver will enable global temperature increase to keep well below 2-degrees. NDCs form the core obligation of countries to reduce national emissions and adapt to climate change impact which lies at the heart of the Paris Agreement.
According to the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), the circular economy is fundamental to achieving our vision of more than 9 billion people living well within the boundaries of the planet by 2050.
How does the circular economy work?
A circular economy refers to a system where resources are redeployed or reused, and waste flows are turned into inputs for further production. It is a system that champions zero waste and zero carbon. As the antithesis of a linear economy, it is an effective means of removing reliance on the earth’s finite sources which are running perilously low.
Circularity means that materials that have reached their end-of-life cycle are not thrown away to become landfill waste, and instead their resources are recovered and reused for new products, thereby reducing waste.
While the circular economy isn’t exactly a new concept, it is one viable solution that has grown in importance in recent years as issues concerning climate change, waste, and resource scarcity increase.
What are the benefits of the circular economy?
One of the advantages of the circular economy is the new economic gains it promises. By recovering resources, such as via recycling, composting, or remanufacturing, that value is being saved and pumped back into organisations. Making products from waste is becoming big business and has the capacity to increase overall GDP which in turn will boost the economy as a whole.
The circular economy model can also lead to another benefit of increased profit opportunities. Thanks to the new model of reducing both energy and waste, it opens more opportunity to access new markets and cut unnecessary costs. It also paves the way for steady, continuous supply for growing industries and individual businesses.
From an environmental standpoint, the circular economy is vital. It cuts greenhouse gas emissions as well as avoids greater pollution. In fact, a study from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation revealed that the development path of a circular economy can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 50% by 2030. In addition, the model places far less demand on the use of materials, achieving as much as 70% of material savings, compared to the process of raw materials extraction, seen in the linear economy model. The focus is on creating continuous material cycles, circumventing the need for recycling and skips landfills.
How is indoor farming part of the circular economy?
A fast-expanding population and increasing consumption are driving global food demand, with agricultural activity struggling to keep pace. The modern agricultural system is wasteful, with Europe generating around 700 million tonnes of agrifood (agricultural and food) waste annually.
In the AgTech sector, the circular economy aims to reduce waste and encourage energy efficiency while removing the need for traditional agricultural methods which rely on diminishing resources such as land. It presents a major opportunity for innovative technologies to address the utilisation of agricultural wastes, by-products and co-products, while working towards the goals of improved economic and environmental sustainability.
While indoor farming, which covers greenhouses, vertical farming and polytunnels, is a method that addresses the urgent need for a more sustainable food system, there are also products used to facilitate these methods, which also must address sustainability. Recent advanced technology in LED grow lights, one vital element of indoor growing, now enables product materials to be recycled and reused, considered a major step forward in green innovation.
How does Light Science Technologies (LST) support the circular economy through LED grow lighting and sensors?
Typically, LED grow lights are replaced every five years and discarded as landfill waste. To solve this issue, LST set about developing a lighting solution designed to support the circular economy. It was a shift in thinking that enabled us to create nurturGROW, which addressed the key areas of innovation, high-performance and cost-effectiveness for indoor growers.
As nurturGROW’s four core component parts are 90% recyclable, it minimises the amount of materials needed to drastically reduce waste and carbon footprint. 85% is also reusable, allowing growers to easily upgrade components with no downtime, making it future-proof and easily maintainable. The unique design aspect means that LST has already allowed for future integration of sensor technologies – which are currently under development. This will enable growers to harness the lighting only when it is needed for optimised growth through use of captured data, therefore using less resources and helping the circular economy.
Made for re-use over 25 years, nurturGROW also reduces landfill waste by over 100 tonnes compared with other LED grow lighting brands using non-recyclable products. What’s more, the company’s pledge to plant over 60,000 trees during this time is part of a wider sustainability initiative for its growers and farmers to give back and help the environment. As reforestation partners of One Tree Planted, one tree is planted for every nurturGROW product sold, to support projects that help sustainable agriculture. This is part of a joint commitment to champion global reforestation efforts and raise awareness of the importance of ecosystem restoration. By delivering advanced technology and sustainable product development to the controlled agriculture environment (CEA) sector, combined with its support for initiatives such as One Tree Planted, LST has committed to some of the key United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
What are the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals?
Formally launched in 2016, the UNs’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are underpinned by 169 targets as part of an ambitious strategy to end poverty by 2030 and make significant global social and environmental progress. However, to date ‘most businesses have barely registered the importance of working sustainably’, according to the Business and Sustainable Development Commission.
The challenge remains getting companies at scale to realise the benefits of working with a sustainability ethos and to begin implementing measures that will lead to significant, transformational change.
Of the 17 development goals, to date LST has pledged its commitment to five of them:
- Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.
- Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation, and foster innovation.
- Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.
- Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.
- Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.
Want to find out more on why LST is your ideal sustainability partner for your indoor growing requirements? Contact us via email@example.com or call us on 01332 410601.