Minimizing waste with the circular economy
In contrast to the linear economy which is based on “take, make, use and dispose of”, the circular economy is characterized by reducing, reusing, recovering and recycling residues and keeping resources in use for as long as possible.
In an ambitious approach to increase the efficiency of society, the EU launched an action plan for a circular economy in Europe. This involved developing relevant legislation to enable circular economy practices as well as supporting and incentivizing development in the area. The EU action plan highlights five priority sectors and biomass and bio-based products are one of them.
MBP has been focusing on recovery and recycling from the outset, and we are proud that our aims are so aligned with the political agenda in Europe. Among the shared targets are MBP’s focus on eliminating landfilling and enabling recovery and recycling by: “turning one industry’s by-product into another industry’s raw material” .
Understanding the concept of a circular economy
In traditional production lifecycles, the process is linear. Let’s look at a cereal processing plant, for example. The production facility creates its cereal varieties using raw materials such as grain. During the process, by-products are created. The cereal is shipped to the end-customer (supermarkets, for example), and the by-products are treated as wasted and disposed of. This process does not utilize raw materials and processes to their maximum potential.
In contrast, a circular economy involves many processes between different businesses. Using the same example, the production facility would still create cereal using different raw materials. The by-products, however, would be recovered and recycled instead of treated as waste. For example, excess raw materials that are unfit for use in production could be sent to a different factory and processed as animal feed. This is how circular economy practices reduce waste and improve business efficiency.
The circular economy in action
This is an example of the circular economy in action in the omega-3 industry where by-product applications enable anaerobic digestion for the production of biogas and the substitution of fish oil in the production of aqua feed for aquaculture. Together with our partners, MBP has developed several new uses of by-products over the years in this industry and continues to innovate across the circular economy in many different industries.
How can different demographics benefit from circular economies?
Using a circular economy plan is beneficial in many different situations. Firstly, the manufacturing business benefits from improved utilization and revenue. For example, the cereal manufacturer can sell their by-products instead of simply disposing of them.
Secondly, recipients of by-products benefit from reduced prices – this is because the raw materials they purchase are part of a larger production process. Thirdly, the end customer benefits from an improved supply chain which could include quicker lead times, and competitive rates.
How can a circular economy help our environment?
A circular economy is important for the future of our planet. Using a method like this helps to greatly reduce pollution. The whole process is efficient, and practically every raw material has a use. This results in the disposal of less material through harmful processes such as burning, or relocation to landfill sites.
Furthermore, the EU circular economy plan improves our society’s efficiency. Certain industries, such as food producers, are renowned for wastage. By implementing circular business models, it should be possible to minimize waste, promote economic growth, improve resource efficiency and create sustainable businesses for the future.
Would you like to know more?
MBP’s many different experts will work with manufacturers’ technical people in order to understand how the by-products arise and to develop a suitable by-product strategy: a strategy that will optimise the potential of the individual waste and by-product streams in both the short and the long term.