Finland has giant supermarkets that only stock second-hand goods

(Unsplash, 2018)

This article is brought to you thanks to the strategic cooperation of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Pushpam Kumar, Chief, Ecosystem Services Economics Unit


Would you shop in a second-hand supermarket?

In Finland, seven non-profit “reuse centres” called Kierrätyskeskus have popped up around Helsinki, offering preloved furniture, clothes, toys, books, sports gear and cookware.

Sounds like a giant thrift store? It’s more a way of life, promoting sustainable consumption while also selling second-hand craft supplies and what it calls “incredibly fabulous” upcycle)d furniture. And there’s an online shop that serves the whole nation as well as an environmental-education programme.

While the stores aren’t new, they represent a growing awareness of how human life is putting pressure on the planet, and the need to cut down on consumption. With the global population forecast to grow to 9 billion by 2045, these ideas are gaining traction in many countries, with people and governments recognising the need to reduce their environmental impact and embrace a “circular economy” by reusing and recycling more.

New Zealand is just one example, where the government is aiming to reduce waste with such an approach.

The circular economy and the linear economy

And individual cities are also adopting the principles.

The circular economy is “one in which we keep resources in use for as long as possible, extract the maximum value from them whilst in use, then recover and regenerate products and materials at the end of their life,” according to London’s Waste and Recycling Board, which promotes the idea in the UK capital. “It is a more efficient and environmentally sound alternative to the traditional linear economy in which we make, use and dispose of resources.”

While the ideas are sound, challenges remain, with initiatives like this dwarfed by the amount of trash generated every day and the proliferation of readily available cheap new products. Pressure group RREUSE estimates that 77% of European citizens would be willing to have their goods repaired, but hardly ever do, because they think it is too expensive.

Such ideas and how to quicken the pace of change are explored in the World Economic Forum’s research on the circular economy, which estimates that embracing the idea represents a $4.5 trillion global growth opportunity by 2030. The Forum hosts and facilitates a public-private collaboration called PACE, the Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy, launched in 2017.

World Economic Forum report

PACE explores ideas like how to reduce electronic waste, or e-waste, or recover more plastic waste. It estimates that in 2016, 44.7 million metric tonnes of e-waste was generated globally and that such rubbish contains high-value deposits including gold, silver, copper and platinum.

“We remain frustrated and challenged by the slow pace and scale of change to date,” the co-chairs of the initiative — the CEO of Philips and the heads of the Global Environment Facility and UN Environment — wrote in a report on the topic. “PACE is about accelerating leadership, collaboration, investment, policy reform and action.”

The way forward will rely on the interaction between large corporations and policymakers. The Forum highlights several companies that are already embracing these ideas. Philips has a “lighting as a service” initiative, under which it retains ownership of the lighting equipment it supplies and can manage it from an environmental point of view at the end of its life.

Vodafone offers a “trade in” service for old devices and retailer H&M collects old garments for reuse and recycling, allowing customers to swap end-of-use clothes for a voucher.

At a national level, other initiatives are also making progress.

Australia’s Reverse Garbage offers ethical shopping and education for people looking to to live more sustainably.

Reversegarbage.org

And in the US, Ann Arbor in Michigan is one of several cities that has a reuse centre, which helped divert more than 1,200 tons from landfill in one month alone. Another initiative is the global Freecycle Network, which allows people to exchange items for free and has more than 9 million members.

Reducing and recycling achievements by Ann Arbor

Back in Finland, the ReUse centres stock ecological craft supplies and offer workshops where customers can learn to make presents, jewellery and other items, giving old items a new lease of life.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

5 creative alternatives to plastic packaging

UN chief condemns student abductions in north-west Cameroon

How the gender commuting gap could be harming women’s careers

These 11 companies are leading the way to a circular economy

Here’s how we get businesses to harmonize on climate change

A Sting Exclusive: “Regional Policy: a fully-fledged investment policy”, Commissioner Cretu reveals live from European Business Summit 2015

How the mobile industry is driving climate progress on the scale of a major economy

These countries are leading the way in green finance

Movius @ MWC14: Discussing novel Communications Applications over a “CAFÉ”

International Day of the Midwife: 5 things you should know

UN Security Council welcomes results of Mali’s presidential elections

UNICEF warns of ‘lost generation’ of Rohingya youth, one year after Myanmar exodus

Residents and visitors to this Dutch neighborhood could share a pool of cars and bikes

Rising insecurity in Central Africa Republic threatens wider region, Security Council told

Medical education during COVID-19 pandemic

Horn of Africa: UN chief welcomes Djibouti agreement between Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia

Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate deal is bad for US business. Here’s why.

Mental distress during the pandemic: is there a way out?

Social, cultural diversity ‘an enormous richness, not a threat’ Guterres declares calling on investment for a harmonious future

Commission reaches agreement with collaborative economy platforms to publish key data on tourism accommodation

European Commission presents comprehensive approach for the modernisation of the World Trade Organisation

Migration crisis, a human crisis after all

EU consumers will soon be able to defend their rights collectively

A Sting Exclusive: “Climate Change needs to be demystified”, Anneli Jättenmäki Vice President of European Parliament underscores from Brussels

Commission statement on the European Remembrance Day for Victims of Terrorism

Ηealth’s foundation is falling apart: what can we do about it?

MWC19 Wrap Up, in association with The European Sting, GSMA’s Brussels Media Partner for the 6th Consecutive Year

Does hosting a World Cup make economic sense?

Cyprus tragedy reveals Eurozone’s arbitrary functioning

5 inventions that could transform the health of our ocean

Yemen: ‘A great first step’ UN declares as aid team accesses grain silo which can feed millions

It’s time to end our ‘separate but unequal’ approach to mental health

Education remains an impossible dream for many refugees and migrants

iSting: Change Europe with your Writing

Now doctors can manipulate genetics to modify babies, is it ethical?

One more country to test the EU project: Kaczynski’s Poland

4 ways leaders are driving innovation in the public sector and revolutionising governance

10 of Albert Einstein’s best quotes

Will Boris Johnson’s victory lead to a no-deal Brexit or is there still time?

How 2020 taught businesses to place empathy before profit

Coronavirus COVID-19 wipes $50 billion off global exports in February alone, as IMF pledges support for vulnerable nations

Korea should improve the quality of employment for older workers

These companies can recycle nearly anything, from cigarette butts to fax machines

Cancer research put at risk by General Data Protection Regulation? The possible dangers of a data privacy EU mania

75 years after Auschwitz liberation, antisemitism still threatens ‘foundations of democratic societies’

This new form of currency could transform the way we see money

The Japanese have a word to help them be less wasteful – ‘mottainai’

Look no hands: self-driving vehicles’ public trust problem

Why Eurozone can afford spending for growth

Lack of involvement, or lack of opportunities?

3 reasons why responsibly-deployed technology is key to the COVID recovery

As Saudi women take the wheel, UN chief hopes end of driving ban creates more opportunities for kingdom’s women and girls

This is what the world’s CEOs think about the global outlook

EU Budget 2019: no deal before the end of the conciliation period

Sudan Partnership Conference: EU mobilises more support for Sudan’s transition

MWC 2016 LIVE: T-Mobile US reveals 5G trial plans

Parliament cuts own spending to facilitate agreement on EU budget

Foreign Affairs Council (Trade) of 22/05/2018: EU relations with key trading partners

EU mobilises €21 million to support Palestine refugees via the UN Relief and Works Agency

These photos show some of the world’s smallest things massively magnified

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s