If you look like this after reading the title for this week’s post, don’t worry, that was my face too after I read a few articles recommended to me by my professor, Dr Coleman. They provided me with a new perspective regarding the theme of my blog and I shall briefly explain what my title is about.
Let’s take it back a few posts and recap what exactly is a ‘circular economy’. Referring to my first post, it refers to a country or company closing the loop in recycling by ensuring that products are constantly cycled back into the economy and not disposed of after usage.
Despite this rosy picture and ideal situation, researchers have come out to say that the benefits of a circular economy are being offset, terming it as the ‘rebound effect’. There is an overall increase in production, instead of the expected drop in production from recycling. Studies have also shown that approximately 29% of circular economy experiences this rebound effect. (Source)
Some reasons for the rebound effect include (Source):
- Lower quality of goods from secondary production due to the degradation of materials while they were utilised
- Undesirable to consumers due to said lower quality or stigma around second-hand goods
- Lower quality goods from secondary production are sold for cheaper prices. This results in producers who substitute their raw materials with secondary goods to have higher income, enabling them to purchase and produce more.
- Secondary production causes an increase in supply, leading to a fall in price based on the principles of economics.
A few possible solutions were suggested in the article such as the ensuring of secondary goods having comparable quality to that of primary goods. Education of the general public regarding the stigma of quality of recycled products could also play a role in minimizing the rebound effect.
Although these solutions presented are on a more macro scale, I hope that this encourages you to purchase secondhand goods with a more open mind. If you go on to run a bigger enterprise, all the more I hope for you keep this humble post of mine in mind when considering your production choices.
It is definitely a pity and shocking to see the ‘uglier’ side of things after reading about the circular economy the past few weeks and giving nothing but praise for it. However, I think this is a poignant reminder of the importance of doing our part to extend the life of our items as much as possible.