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#CircularTuesday: How Africa’s manufacturing industry can embrace a circularity model

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#CircularTuesday: How Africa’s manufacturing industry can embrace a circularity model

Hello, readers.

Welcome to #CircularTuesday on CleanbuildVoices!

In this edition of Circular Tuesdays, we’ll be taking a brief look at how Africa’s manufacturing industry can embrace a circularity model. You may wonder why this is important.

Once upon a time, recycling used to be viewed as an activity associated with empty plastics and eccentric people. But with the problem of waste pollution looming large in our collective reality, this is no longer the case.

So when you hear about the concept of circular economy, does recycling immediately pop into your mind? If yes, you are not far off from the truth. Although recycling is the core of a circular economy, it goes beyond it.

To put it simply, in a circular economy, products are created with the objective to make them last longer, be reused, and recycled. How does the manufacturing sector fit into the circular economy narrative?

For one, the industry is one of the biggest carbon-emitting sectors globally. It is also one of the biggest contributors of waste, hence the need for businesses operating in the manufacturing industry to double down on circularity.

That said, manufacturing companies and producers should see to the reduction of single-use of various materials or plastics. Even more, they could enter into partnerships with others along the value chain who will be able to find a use for waste.

Are there benefits in doing these? Well, not only is a circularity model cost-effective, it fosters economic growth and job creation, energy conservation, and increased market competitiveness.

Let’s consider how manufacturers in developing countries have incorporated circularity at the heart of their operations. Dutch tech company Philips refurbishes medical equipment such as MRI systems. Chile-based pump technology company Neptuno Pumps remanufactures energy-efficient pumps from reused and recycled pump material.

Also, Continental, a German multinational automotive manufacturer, announced in August that it will use recycled plastic bottles to make tires in its journey to embrace the principles of the circularity model.

While very few manufacturing companies in Africa are making strides to practice circularity in their operations, much still needs to be improved upon while ensuring that sustainable solutions to waste problems. Here are some ways they can do that:

  • Build products that come with sustainable packaging.
  • Overhaul and rebuild assets rather than purchase new ones.
  • Rejuvenate and upgrade with new electronics or even substantially reconfigured to deliver entirely new products.
  • Bear some measure of end-of-life responsibility for their products to reduce waste pollution.

This is all for our #CircularTuesday. Watch this space, as we’ll be back for more next week.

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