Circular economy, a hot topic
The Quebec pole of concertation on the circular economy gives a precise definition of circular economy:
The circular economy is defined as a “system of production, exchange and consumption that aims to optimize the use of resources at all stages of the life cycle of a good or service, in a circular logic, while reducing the environmental footprint and contributing to the well-being of individuals and communities” (source: Pôle québécois de concertation sur l’économie circulaire).
The principle of the circular economy is based on a dual objective:
To establish a new paradigm in terms of production and consumption models.
To implement measures and infrastructures to optimize the use of our resources, notably by limiting the environmental impacts of production tools, extending the life of products and recycling resources and products.The circular economy is based not only on a revised economic model, which introduces the notions of green economy and eco-performance of production tools, but also on raising consumer and business awareness. According to Global Footprint Network, the day when, in 2020, humanity consumed all the resources produced by ecosystems is around August 20, three weeks later than in 2019, which shows that when the appropriate measures are implemented, it is possible to achieve relatively rapid change.
A few figures
- According to World Bank estimates, the annual production of municipal waste in the world is currently around 2 billion tons. Demographics and rapid urbanization are all factors contributing to the increase in this volume, which should theoretically reach 3.4 billion tons of waste by 2050.
- All types of society combined, each inhabitant produces nearly 0.74 kg of waste per day.
- So-called developed countries generate 34% of the world’s waste. This percentage is increasing with growing urbanization.
- 44% of the waste produced is organic waste
- 17% of plastic waste
- In developing countries only 39% of waste is collected on a regular basis.
- 37% of municipal waste is landfilled, 33% is disposed of in open landfills, 11% is incinerated and 19% is recycled.
It is therefore easy to understand the importance of measures to reduce these environmental impacts and the relevance of extending the life of resources and products from industrial processes by recycling them.
Studies conducted by many organizations, including the United Nations, show that the combined action of various factors: urbanization, industrial growth in emerging countries, demographics, growth in consumption, to name but a few, are all elements that weaken not only ecosystems but also the sources of raw materials (fishery resources for example, or the case of mining phosphorus).
The circular economy therefore targets a re-modeling of consciousness and behavior with regard to natural resources and environmental preservation, and the implementation of pragmatic and financially viable economic measures to achieve the objectives set, particularly in terms of reducing greenhouse gases (GHG). It should be noted that beyond the above-mentioned considerations, the establishment of a circular economy also aims to improve the health of populations by limiting the impacts of pollution on the body (heavy metals, microplastics, air and water quality, etc.)
Awareness of the situation has generated neologisms that are now part of our daily vocabulary:
Eco-consciousness, eco-responsibility, energy efficiency are just a few examples, as is the principle of sustainability.Sustainable procurement (extraction/exploitation and sustainable purchasing) concerns the method of exploitation/extraction of resources aiming at efficient resource exploitation by limiting exploitation waste and impact on the environment, particularly in the exploitation of energy and mineral materials (mines and quarries) or in agricultural and forestry exploitation for both renewable and non-renewable materials/energy”.
Ecodesign, for example, takes place upstream in the design of a process, a good or a service, and takes into account the entire life cycle while minimizing environmental impacts.
Beyond environmental considerations, there is also the economic dimension. This combination of the two factors: environment and economy is particularly supported by numerous government authorities, which are implementing multiple programs to enable companies to orient their activities towards circular economy models.
The governments’ objectives are clear: they aim to stimulate the economy, particularly local economies, job creation, reduction of greenhouse gases, preservation of ecosystems and in particular the health of watersheds, waste recovery and the use of clean energy, which should gradually replace fossil fuels.
Solugen and circular economy
Pig manure is not strictly speaking a waste, it is a by-product of animal husbandry and its composition makes it a natural fertilizer of first choice. However, as we have mentioned on several occasions, the conventional management of liquid manure, which consists of storing it before spreading it during predetermined periods, causes various financial, organizational and environmental constraints, particularly with regard to greenhouse gas emissions during storage and spreading, and phosphorus management, which is a universal problem. This problem can be summed up as soil saturation and the need to transport manure further and further away to spread it in areas not overloaded with phosphorus. As we described in a previous blog, in addition to these problems, phosphorus in certain areas of intensive agriculture and or livestock breeding is a potential danger for watersheds (risk of eutrophication of rivers and lakes).
On average, a mature hog produces up to one tonne of manure per year (EPA, 2015a; USGAO, 2008). The animal is kept alive for about six months. This equates to, for example, more than 60 million tons of manure to be managed per year in the United States. In Quebec, approximately 7 million hogs are produced annually. We are therefore talking about large quantities of manure that must be managed properly.
Solugen’s technology recovers a significant quantity of pure water that can be reused, i.e. 84% of the initial volume of liquid manure, as well as bio-liquids that can be commercialized.
This breakdown of manure into by-products allows the creation of a circular economy by revalorizing the components while drastically reducing the environmental impact by a significant reduction in the greenhouse gases normally emitted during the storage and spreading of manure.
By using clean energy, hydro-electricity to treat manure, Solugen’s solution is in line with a logic of eco-responsibility and by facilitating the management of by-products Solugen acts a partner of the pork industry.