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The essential ‘third R’

January 9, 2018

Molly Black has published her thoughts on the cruciality of ‘the three R’s’, particularly recycling, to the circular economy.

A new article by Molly Black of SCS Global Services has championed the continued centrality of recycling to the circular economy. Black, an auditor in the company’s Environmental Certification Services division, writes of how an entire generation has grown up with the ‘three R’s’ mantra (reduce, reuse, recycle) and says we must now close the recycling loop by turning the collected materials into new products and selling them to consumers. She argues that this will go hand-in-hand with education provision and incentivisation, which are “needed to stimulate product recycling at the end of life.”

Black also discusses how recycled consumer products are becoming more common, and more encouraged, with thousands of manufacturers and suppliers now seeking independent certification of the recycled content in their products, in order to demonstrate to their customers the active part they are playing in the circular economy. Everyday product from recyclables now include reusable shopping bags, closets, windows, insulation, and yarn.

“Recycling” writes Black, “helps build our economic, natural, and social capital, using fewer resources and protect natural resources.” She goes on to discuss the positive social impacts of the process, including reducing blight, as well as avoiding the exploitation and depletion of natural resources, and the toxic environments that that can lead to. She also considers the various political schemes put in place in the United States to aid recycling, such as a series of Executive Orders from President Clinton and his successors, and legislation in New York, Illinois and California encouraging the use of recycled content, in place of virgin materials.

There are also economic benefits, Black continues, citing increased job creation, compared to landfill or incineration. She also suggests that recycling can answer “a large proportion of the economy’s demand for resources”, reducing pressure on the environment, and that the energy needed for the process is less than that needed to transform raw materials into usable products.

Black concludes by calling recycling – the ‘third R’ – “integral to society’s efforts to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals” and states it has the long-term power to benefit the economy, the environment, and ourselves, as well. You can read her article in full, here.


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