Symbol for circular economy

How Sterling Thermal Technology as a company is supporting the circular economy

You may know that circular economy relates in some way to environmental sustainability. But, it might not be clear precisely what the definition of a circular economy is, or what its principles and benefits are.

In this post, we intend to explain this. But first, to understand a circular economy, we should understand the opposite: a traditional economy. This is the dominant system in the world today.

What is a traditional economy?

Because it consists of one step after another without going back, a traditional economy is also known as a “linear economy”.

The steps of a traditional/linear economy are as follow:

  1. Take
  2. Make
  3. Use
  4. Dispose

Illustration of linear economyIn other words, take resources from the earth, for example, make a product, use the product, and dispose of it, such as in a landfill.

What makes a circular economy unique is that it adds a step that connects the last step to the first, creating a circle. That step is “reuse” or “recycle”.

What is the definition of a circular economy?

drawing of the circular economy cycle concept“Circular economy” doesn’t have a strict definition but encapsulates a variety of methods that extend the life of products to reduce the expenditure of resources and the waste generated.

This includes:

  • recycling
  • repairing
  • reusing
  • sharing

Circular economy companies think about actions that can get an unused product back into use without creating a new product. This is the core of the circular economy. It promotes sustainability and waste reduction.

Is a circular economy better than a linear economy?

There are environmental costs associated with each step in a traditional economy.

When we mine resources, we disrupt the natural ecosystem (as well as local human communities), which can harm biodiversity. Even sustainable resources can require a lot of energy to obtain. When we turn raw resources into usable ones, there are waste products involved, such as CO2, which causes damage to the ozone layer. This is what causes global warming.

When we dispose of a product after we‘re done with it, it becomes waste, and we have to put it somewhere. The space that can be turned into landfills is limited, and the waste material can find its way into places we don’t want it. Think of fly-tipping or rubbish-strewn beaches, as well as chemicals leaking into water systems. Incinerating waste leads to the generation of gases, such as methane, that harms the ozone, as does waste degrading in landfills.

As we run out of places to put non-recyclable rubbish, we risk causing unhealthy conditions and contamination in the world.

Perhaps the biggest problem with a linear economy is that natural resources are not infinite. Just like we will run out of landfill space, we will also run out of oil, coal, natural gases, and metal ore.

How do we solve this problem? While sustainable resources can be used more, we can’t simply stop using natural resources. So we have to reuse them instead. This is why the circular economy is so important.

What are the benefits of a circular economy for companies?

Isn’t taking measures to become more environmentally friendly just a nicety without any practical benefits for a company? It can be seen as expensive and not economical for a business.

However, companies that think this are unfortunately missing out on some real, tangible benefits of becoming more eco-friendly. In the long run, a company that works within a circular economy might well succeed over those who work against it.

  • Companies that accept that raw materials are finite can better prepare themselves for the risk of their depletion.
  • They can become more efficient and save costs by recycling and reusing instead of constantly replacing.
  • Companies that challenge themselves to move towards a circular economy model will stimulate innovationand attract bright workers who are interested in tackling complex circular economy design challenges.
  • More and more customers are looking for sustainability in their purchases, and any businesses you serve will themselves have environmental targets to hit. You can attract more custom by delivering products within a circular economy.

How is Sterling TT as a company supporting the circular economy?

Sterling TT has been proud to work with forward-thinking, environmentally conscious companies who are looking for heat exchange solutions to push forward green technologies.

We have worked with a company called Worn Again Technologies. The goal of this company is to support the circularity of the materials that go into the creation of clothing and textiles. Their technology allows for the recycling of polyester and cotton textiles that have reached the end of their life, turning them into raw materials for new products.

This sort of process is a perfect example of inventing a solution that satisfies the principles of the circular economy. We were proud to assist this environmentally minded company by designing a bespoke compact vacuum condenser process unit based on their unique needs.

Sterling TT is always excited to be part of any project that contributes to an environmentally conscious future. If you have projects where a heat exchanger expert could help in the design or manufacturing process, don’t hesitate to contact us.