David Ginley, National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Achieving a Circular Economy
Written by Chetna Madan
The term circular economy is becoming an indispensable concept due to the foundation of redefining growth and remodeling sustainable consumption of finite resources available on the planet. The aim is to design practical pathways to extract and recycle as much as materials of significance along with a re-evaluation of the processes to achieve the same. The key principles of circular economy can be stated as (1) eliminating waste and pollution, (2) re-using finished products and extracted materials, and (3) re-establishing natural systems. As proposed by Dr. Ginley from NREL, the design of materials should be done to attain reusability and self-restoration and with the principle of causing negligible environmental harm. The talk addressed that seemingly renewable energy sources like solar and wind come with associated setbacks of exposing toxic materials to the environment, complete non-recovery of difficult to process elements and incapability to design end-of-life reusability of certain significant components. This is the right time to visualize and practice circular economy as a new pathway to designing, processing, and ultimate recycling of our resources for enabling justified utilization.