Circular economy: reduce, reuse and UPcycle

  • Plastic recycle meetup
  • Circular Economy Portugal - Lindsey Wuisan
  • Circular Economy Portugal - Lindsey Wuisan
  • Garbags Tania Almenso

Nowadays if you are interested in certain activities, trends or problem solutions then one of the ways how to find your peers or people with the same interests is to check out Meetup – world’s largest network of local groups, makes it easy for anyone to organize a local group or find one of the thousands already meeting up face-to-face.

So a bit more than a week ago I participated in Lisbon Sustainable Development group Meetup. The meetup’s topic was “Plastic: reduce, reuse and UPcycle with Garbags” organized by the initiative Circular Economy Portugal“.

Did you know that

  • if we won’t change our plastic consumption habits then there will be more plastic in the sea than fish by 2050;
  • only 5% of plastics worldwide are recycled effectively, while 40% end up in landfill and a third in fragile ecosystems?

and 5 more things that which you probably did not know about plastics:

But if you would like to know how did we end up addicted to plastics, the meetup organizer recommends the documentary “Addicted to Plastics“.

There are the following approached for plastics recycling:

  • downcycling – plastic garbage is recycled to new materials or products with lower quality or reduced functionality;
  • upcycling – reuse (discarded objects or material) in such a way as to create a product of a higher quality or value than the original.

But before becoming too enthusiastic about upcycling one should always consider energy consumption and costs of the process as well.

One of the vivid upcycling examples in Portugal is social enterprise Garbags, has already saved more than 150 000 used packages from ending up in a landfill. You wonder how? It upcycles discarded plastics to make designer products that are stylish and functional. The packaging comes from eco-partners or are donated by local people (in exchange of free gifts), up till now Garbags has around 200 regular locals who are donating their plastic garbage. All products are handmade in Lisbon

In this meetup participated and shared her experience also the Garbags founder Tânia Anselmo – environmental engineer with “a strong will to make a difference in the recycling and business world”. The path towards successful business was not an easy one – at the beginning companies in Portugal were very sceptical about such partnership offers this is why first partner was coming from Sweden, now of course the situation improved and Garbags have several eco-partners also in Portugal. The other challenge was to find craftspeople to produce high quality products. Well – the end result you can check out by yourself in Garbags online shop. I think it is quite of a success and also very attractive. Learn more about Tânia from this interview.

By the way – Garbags are looking to expand their success story also to other parts of the world and are looking for franchise partners. So if you are interested – do not hesitate to contact them.

And more – in the end of the last year European Commision adopted an ambitious new Circular Economy Package to stimulate Europe’s transition towards a circular economy which will boost global competitiveness, foster sustainable economic growth and generate new jobs. This also means that there will come financing opportunities from EU programmes and funds, here is an excerpt from the press release about the Circular Economy Package:

“The Commission will:

  • help SMEs benefit from the business opportunities of increased resource efficiency with the creation of the European Resource Efficiency Excellence Centre;
  • fully exploit the Horizon 2020 Work Programme for 2016-2017, which includes a major initiative on ‘Industry 2020 in the circular economy’ with funding of over €650 million ;
  • together with the EIB, and the European Investment Advisory Hub, encourage applications for funding and support the development of projects relevant to the circular economy. “

In conclusion few more initiatives in plastics recycling and reducing its consumption:

Photo (c): Margarita Lukjanska and Mira Bangel

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