Bringing the Circular Economy to Scale in Brazil

Recently, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation presented a position paper discussing Brazil’s ability to bring their circular economy activities to scale. Not only Brazil, but the whole world simply can no longer continue to grow with the present way of consumption. The population and economic growth of the last decade have led to a rapid urbanization. Brazil has roughly 15 cities with over a 1 million inhabitants that all face major urban challenges. These issues include unemployment, safety, water security, affordable housing, electricity, and sanitation for all. In addition, pollution and traffic congestion lead to health issues and some areas suffer from severe droughts or inversely from storm floods.

The circular economy is gaining traction globally as an attractive alternative to a linear “take-make-dispose” economy. It offers an opportunity for a society to prosper while reducing its dependence on finite materials and nonrenewable sources of energy. With unique market characteristics and massive natural capital, Brazil is a compelling setting in which to further explore the opportunities that the circular economy. A circular economy is one that is restorative and regenerative by design. It aims to keep products, components, and materials at their highest utility and value at all times. The principles behind a circular economy are not entirely new in Brazil, and have begun to appear in pockets of activity across the country. Businesses and other organizations see these principles as drivers of innovation with proven value creation potential.

Brazil has the potential to achieve this in many different sectors. Agricultural productivity potential, decreasing cost by being smarter with material, and water and energy resource efficiency can all have positive societal effects later. Acting now ensures continuity for business and improves the quality of life for Brazilians. Biobased solutions are a significant part of a circular economy and one where Brazil might take a lead. It is a way to add value to its agricultural richness and create a global green chemistry hub that exports products from renewable materials to the world.

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