According to Solange Blaszkowski who chairs the IEC Advisory Committee on Environmental Aspects (ACEA), “in very simple terms, circular economies are about resources and how to keep them in use”. The circular economy approach reassesses how resources are managed and how waste is perceived throughout the entire lifecycle of a product from its design to its use, repair, reuse, remanufacture and, finally, its transformation into parts for new products.
Material efficiency is an essential part of the circular economy. It consists of the conservation of materials by making products more durable and repairable as well as facilitates the reuse and recycling at the end of the product life. For Andreas Schneider, a member of ACEA, “material efficiency is trying to be responsible with materials, the building blocks of products and services. These materials need to remain available, not only for now or for one use, but continuously through recycling and reuse”.
A recent IEC ACEA survey demonstrated that certain aspects of the circular economy are directly relevant to the work of many IEC committees. Industry is also taking interest in issues such as product design optimization, refurbishment and recyclability. To better understand the impact on industry, e-tech spoke with several IEC experts who are involved in issues related to the circular economy.
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