The imperative for a reuse economy and culture

The following post is an excerpt from Linda’s opinion piece originally published on Waste Dive in November

Top environmental experts agree that our global waste crisis cannot be solved by recycling alone. Because recycling and composting are clearly not complete solutions, world leaders, corporations and consumers must focus on transitioning to a reuse or “circular” economy to ensure significant, long-term reductions of both new packaging production and international waste streams. 

Unfortunately, the infrastructure needed to support a sustainable circular economy does not yet exist. Successfully achieving this critical first stage will naturally depend on multiple stakeholders collaborating toward a common goal.

To achieve this with any degree of success, we must focus on fundamentals: 

  • Educate consumers and businesses on the easily reducible items (napkins, utensils, straws, plastic bottles, etc.) and how to reuse other items. 
  • Make collection bins available at multiple reuse drop-off locations.
  • Incentivize vendors to install collection systems at their locations. 
  • Alter consumer behavior by placing a small fee on disposables, or incentivizing returns.
  • Implement centralized facilities to sort, clean and sanitize items. 

 

Not surprisingly, many organizations lack awareness of the most effective ways to reduce waste or fail to support participation in the reuse cycle. These are exactly the grassroots issues that must be addressed to inspire a successful worldwide transition to a circular economy. 

Reuse companies must lead the way by guiding other enterprises in actively participating in building the circular economy. Completing the global reuse puzzle will be a generational movement that begins with today’s innovators and policymakers providing a clear regulatory framework that supports implementation and participation.

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