Population growth presents opportunity for circular economies

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The United Nations estimates that the global population will increase to over 11-billion by 2050. Africa, in particular, is expected to reach a population of 2.5-billion by that time - representing 26% of the world’s people. Naturally, this means an increase in the amount of waste we produce. We need to come up with effective waste management solutions and ideas for circular economies in order to avoid a waste crisis.Unless we change our current attitude towards waste and consumption, we will be heading straight towards a catastrophe on a global scale. Sustainability, recycling and reusing goods will need to become a priority, not just in Africa but around the world. A growing population does present more opportunities for waste management companies and the possibilities of circular economies.On average, humans produce over 2-billion tonnes of solid waste per year - roughly 750 grams per person per day. This volume will increase to 3.4-billion tonnes by 2050 as a direct result of population growth and urbanisation. Landfills around the world are already reaching capacity, including right here in South Africa.

Implementing circular economies

The best way forwards is for government, manufacturers, waste management companies and retailers to come up with viable circular economy models. This is where waste is recycled, reused and fed back into the raw materials supply chain. A circular economy gives waste another useful life cycle rather than letting it sit in a landfill. It also helps to reduce our reliance on non-renewable raw materials, such as oil and minerals. By turning waste into a sustainable resource and using it to manufacture valuable products, we can save the environment and boost the economy at the same time. This will become more important as the world’s population grows.

Circular economies in Africa

Africa has such a valuable entrepreneurial spirit. As the population increases, a circular economy model of consumption and production will truly deliver economic benefits. New business will be set up that offer innovative solutions to waste and production. Africans will be able to use the idea of circular economies to unlock the economic potential offered by waste.Many industries on the continent are already starting to make the shift towards sustainability, recycling and reuse of post-consumer goods. Businesses are starting to listen to consumer demands and take cognisance of how they make their products and how they can become more environmentally-friendly. The war on plastic waste is the best example of this.In the cases where waste cannot be reused or recycled, businesses will have to find safe ways to destroy their waste or convert it into energy. Waste-to-energy plants are already a reality in South Africa. Waste management companies probably have the biggest responsibility to effect these shifts towards reuse and recycling. The waste industry will become a critical pillar of society and the economy in the future, turning waste into an opportunity for economic growth.___Averda is a leading waste management provider with over 50 years of experience across three continents. Through growth, transformation and engagement, we strive to find new ways of managing waste while protecting the community and environment. ___By pairing international expertise with local insights, we have secured our position as one of South Africa’s most respected providers of waste management and industrial cleaning services. We also operate in the recycling, pipe inspection, CCTV, infrastructure inspection, hydro-demolition, high-pressure water jetting and catalyst handling industries. ___Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for the best tips on recycling and the latest industry news. See our Instagram and YouTube channels for more insights into environmental affairs and our work with local communities.