By Muhammad Hussin Abdul Jabar
Conventional economy model often neglects the sustainability aspect of its operation. It takes a linear form, where a resource is taken, modified and made into a product and disposed without a proper end of life management (take-make-consume-dispose). Circular economy aims to change this by producing goods and services sustainably. This is done by reducing consumption and waste of resource and limiting waste generation. The importance of this economy model has also been considered by policymakers, resulting to its realisation efforts by many countries. For example, China issued its Circular Economy Promotion Law in 2008 and the European Union launched the comprehensive European Circular Economy Action Plan in March 20201,2.
One of the main sectors that can step up its game in circular economy implementation is the agricultural sector due to its advantage as one of the main contributors to Malaysia’s GDP. Commonly seen as mere waste, the by-products of agricultural activities are usually disposed of instead of being considered as items of fortune3. This is due to the failure to view them as a new resource with benefits that can be utilized. However, efforts have been done by the authorities in mitigating this issue. An example can be observed in Malaysia’s palm oil industry, where continuous research has been done in utilizing palm oil waste as biofuels. This effort also contributes to reducing the dependency on fossil fuels and promotes cleaner production practices.
Additionally, cleaner production is considered as one of the most prominent contributors to circular economy. In its implementation, various aspects are taken into consideration in the life cycle of a product or service. For instance, in wastewater treatment, implementation of cleaner production is demonstrated in the recycle and reuse of water process and also energy and nutrient conservation. As an additional example in cleaner production in wastewater treatment, studies on emerging contaminants removal by waste materials adsorbent can be observed in both academic and involved industries4. This leads to a more sustainable water usage in its application. In comparison, linear economy model does not highlight this as its application ends at disposal of the wastewater.
Finally, application of circular economy also leads to the efforts to realize SDG 12, sustainable consumption and production pattern. This model of economy provides a platform for players to manage their business operations ethically and without compromising the three pillars of sustainability (economy, social and environment). Therefore, when in practice it can be observed as an SDGs-friendly economic model.
- Green Policy Platform. China Circular Economy Promotion Law. Green Policy Platform https://www.greengrowthknowledge.org/national-documents/china-circular-economy-promotion-law (2008).
- European Commission. Circular Economy Action Plan. (2020).
- Adejumo, I. O. & Adebiyi, O. A. Agricultural Solid Wastes: Causes, Effects, and Effective Management. Strateg. Sustain. Solid Waste Manag. (2020) doi:10.5772/INTECHOPEN.93601.
- Hossain, N., Bhuiyan, M. A., Pramanik, B. K., Nizamuddin, S. & Griffin, G. Waste materials for wastewater treatment and waste adsorbents for biofuel and cement supplement applications: A critical review. J. Clean. Prod. 255, 120261 (2020).