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Machine Compare

The rise of the circular economy and what it means

15 January 2021

By now, most of us are familiar with the concept of the ‘circular economy’. Slowly but surely, more industry sectors are moving away from past take-make-waste approaches which put immense stresses on our environment. But to think that circularity begins and ends at recycling and waste management falls short of the truth. With the pandemic quickly reorganising industry priorities, we must be careful not to lose sight of the looming climate crisis – continuing our transition towards a sustainable future. 

Popularised by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the circular economy holds the key to a sustainable future and continued economic prosperity. Today, over 90 percent of the world’s resources, including metals, wood, concrete, plastics and chemicals are only used once in a product before being discarded and becoming waste. A trend which industry plays a critical role in turning around. In the U.S. alone, industry contributes to at least 97 per cent of solid waste. This – alongside the fact that if only five key sectors including steel, aluminium, cement, plastic and food adopted circularity, CO2 emissions would drop by an estimated 9.3 billion tonnes in 2050 – might make you wonder why more hasn’t been done.

Luckily, hope remains on the horizon.

More companies are now facing sustainability issues head on ­– even in the midst of the on-going pandemic. A recent study conducted by the Carbon Trust showed that over 70 per cent of organisations believe that environmental management and sustainability priorities will become increasingly important due to the pandemic. Recent events including the surge in net-zero commitments by companies and entire countries, the European Union’s Green Deal, Joe Biden winning the 2020 U.S. elections, the U.K climate-disclosures mandate and even the recent Brexit Trade Deal – point to equally promising signs that sustainability is becoming institutionalised on a level of concrete change.

The transition will mean major transformations in the ways we think and produce products, inspiring companies to go above and beyond recycling and waste management, even though these remain fundamental. Conveniently, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation outlines the principles of the circular economy: designing out waste and pollution, keeping product and materials in use for longer, and regenerating natural systems. We’ve broken these down for you – and, like the start to any good idea, change begins on our drawing boards.

Don’t let your designs go to waste

Believe it or not – waste is a decision. Waste and pollution are direct results of how we choose to design products, with 80 per cent of environmental impact determined at this stage, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Looking ahead, we need to reframe our understandings of waste to mean design flaw – and inspire product designs that make them easier to repair, remanufacture, recycle and reuse. Adopting materials and technologies that factor waste out of the equation is a first step, as it will help us collectively break free from a vicious cycle into a regenerative one.

Give back what you borrow

Let’s appreciate what is around us and avoid depreciating it. If done right, we can find ways to make almost infinite use of our finite resources, at little cost to the planet. But keeping products and materials in the economy by making them last isn’t enough. We also need to think about how to source materials before they end up in landfills. This means, for example, rethinking ownership and adopting service-based contracts, as well as implementing better waste management strategies aimed at mining products for valuable resources.

Following mother nature’s lead

In nature, everything has value. Waste is not a concept here – as everything acts as food for something else. Nowhere can we find a better role model in our transition towards circularity than our natural ecosystems, which have sustained themselves for millennia. By finding ways to return valuable nutrients to nature, we can safeguard our natural resources and continue adding value around and for us.

Addressing industry’s hidden crises

At Machine Compare, we are dedicated to playing our part in fostering a healthier planet, enabling industry players to adopt more sustainable approaches to global trade. Circular thinking lies at the very heart of what we do – you could say it is our raison d’etre or reason for being.

Noticing the alarming amount of obsolete, unused spare parts wasting away on the shelves of manufacturing companies, brothers Eric and Ben Findlay founded Machine Compare in 2014 with the vision of developing an e-commerce site targeted at getting these spare parts back into the market. And their vision came true in March 2021 with the launch of Marketplace. To date, an astonishing £5B worth of spare parts have been identified in multiple industry sectors. A price tag that can either come to signify immense costs or profits for global organisations ­– and let’s not forget, the planet. Together, we can tip odds in favour of the latter, creating added value for industry buyers and sellers around the world, monetising what would otherwise become waste.

Whether you’re looking to buy spare parts or sell spare parts, Machine Compare Marketplace is your destination. Discover the benefits of the e-commerce platform and what it has in store for you as a buyer, seller, or both.