An average Dutch household has 100 electrical appliances in the house. In our linear economy all, sooner or later, will be scrapped. This has major consequences: for example, in the United States, 70% of heavy metals in landfills come from electronics. Electronic waste is bad for the environment and creates health risks for everyone. Time for a new approach: the circular economy.
The circular economy is an economic system in which maximum reuse of products and materials is key. This means that waste is either organic in nature and has a natural ending, or that product(parts) are technically reusable. As a result economic value is retained. The circular economy is at odds with the current linear system, in which raw materials are converted into products that ultimately are destroyed.
‘In the Netherlands the amount of e-waste per person per year is: 23.7 kilograms. Of which, on average, 75% reusable’, says Martijn Sanders from My Home Services. With some clever digital services, Sanders supports individuals to understand their contracts and subscriptions. Saving plays an important role too, for instance by recycling electronic devices. As an example, My Home Services helps connect individuals with 'repair shops'. ‘A lot of e-waste is exported to the poor countries. Under appalling conditions these products are taken apart and recycled there. Because, for example, a mobile phone holds many valuable materials, such as gold, silver and platinum, but also holds toxic substances, such as lead, mercury and cadmium’, according to Sanders. As it is better to prevent than to cure, Sanders emphasizes the importance of consumer awareness: Think before you buy!
We live in a time where 'to own' is increasingly being replaced by 'to share'. Companies like Greenwheels and Snappcar focus on 'car sharing', while Airbnb helps individuals to rent their house to others for short periods of time. To share is the new 'to have' and this creates opportunities. Sharing is not only sustainable, but also financially attractive. Sharing is a lot cheaper and that is a strong motivator.
The ‘sharing economy’ is still to really emerge, but various interesting initiatives have already been developed. Like Timebank, where people exchange their time for services. Or FlOOW2, a business-to-business platform for lending equipment and services. ‘Stagnant capital is put to use’, says Marga Hoek from De Groene Zaak. Hoek supports companies with doing business sustainably. ‘The mission of De Groene Zaak is a world that is cleaner, nicer and fairer.’ And that makes Improve4all very happy.
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