The circular flow of economy eliminates waste by transforming the current “take-make-dispose” business model into a “make-use-return” model.
The rising costs of raw materials, increased competition and changing regulations have created significant challenges for manufacturers today. That’s why many manufacturers have been looking for more sustainable ways to optimize existing processes that include waste management.
The circular economy approach to managing a company’s waste does just that … it keeps materials at their highest utility and value by indefinitely recycling the material without degradation of properties. In other words, materials are recycled to be used in the same form.
What Is The Circular Economy?
The circular economy is an economic system that focuses on eliminating the unnecessary use of resources. It works by ultimately designing waste and pollution out of a system, while keeping products and materials in use.
When applied to waste management, a circular flow offers a framework that is designed to be restorative or regenerative. Circular systems create a closed loop process that promotes the continuous repurposing of materials until they are finally recycled.
Particularly in manufacturing, the closed loop recycling process offers companies a way to take an existing physical product, such as industrial solvents, and recycle them in order to make a useful waste byproduct.
This is in contrast to open loop recycling, which converts manufactured goods and spent materials into new raw materials or as a fuel source for a different manufacturing process. One of the most common examples of open loop recycling is fuel blending, which blends organic waste streams into an alternative fuel for kilns used in manufacturing cement.
How Does The Circular Economy Eliminate Waste?
So, how does a circular flow look in practice? And, how does this circular economy concept eliminate waste?
For companies that regularly generate hazardous waste such as solvent-based liquids, solids and sludge, the circular economy process offers an opportunity to enhance their sustainability plans and keep materials at their highest value.
Temarry Recycling, based in San Diego, operates a recycling facility just south of the border in Tecate, Mexico that embraces the concept of zero waste. This treatment, storage and disposal facility (TSDF) is an example of a circular economy in action because it takes an existing physical product (industrial solvents) and recycles them into a useful waste byproduct.
Here’s what the make-use-return approach looks like when solvents are brought to Temarry:
- A waste to energy process converts high BTU organic solids to steam. This steam is then used as energy on site.
- A solvent distillation unit uses that steam to power recovery stills. Through distillation, spent solvents are re-manufactured and sold back into industry with their original solvent properties.
- The circular economy closes during a water treatment process. This process extracts usable water from industrial hazardous wastes, including acids, bases, coolants, oily water and latex paint. Treated water is used on site for industrial needs that include the waste to energy process and in the cooling tower.
What Benefits Come From Embracing A Circular Economy?
When companies invest in technologies that embrace the circular economy concept, especially in their waste management processes, companies often see several benefits.
The benefits of a circular economy in waste management include:
- Decreased costs
- Reduced carbon footprint
- Improved image
- Reduced Liability
Sustainable business practices often create more efficient operations. By conserving resources and enhancing productivity, additional costs are reduced.
When companies choose to send their hazardous waste to fuel blending facilities, that waste is transported across the country to Kansas or Arkansas. For West Coast companies, choosing a company like Temarry Recycling to manage their industrial solvent waste allows them to reduce their transportation costs.
Temarry’s recycling facility is located just across the United States-Mexico border.
Reduced Carbon Footprint
For the same reasons above, a company can improve the sustainability of its waste management plan. When companies send their waste across the country, this transportation alone can produce more than 1,500 kg of carbon dioxide.
Because Temarry’s facility is located in Tecate, Mexico, just 40 miles east of San Diego, sending their solvents to Temarry reduces their travel distance, and in turn also reduces their carbon footprint.
Studies on sustainability show that more than half of consumers are more likely to purchase goods from a sustainable company. A company’s reputation matters, and it’s important for companies to keep in mind that consumers care about their purchases and have substantial purchasing power.
Companies that choose to incorporate the circular economy into their waste management plans and work with Temarry Recycling will realize a reduction in cradle to grave liability. As an EPA authorized exporter of hazardous waste, Temarry assumes generator liability status for a company’s waste stream once it crosses the Mexican border.
By embracing long-term solutions to waste management, companies will likely realize long-term benefits, including decreased costs, enhanced sustainability and reduced liability.
Particularly for companies that regularly generate solvent-based liquids, solids and sludge, the circular economy process offers a unique opportunity to enhance their sustainability as a company, reduce their use of natural resources and keep materials at their highest value.
To see how other companies have embraced reducing their waste and embracing the circular economy, take a look at our article, Going Zero Waste? Here’s 5 Companies That Did It.