Ruth Corona
Director of Sustainability and Energy Services
JLL Mexico
/
Expert Contributor

Circular Economy: The Route to Sustainable Waste Management

By Ruth Corona | Wed, 12/01/2021 - 12:58

The increase in industrialization as well as urbanization have caused problems, including an increase in energy demand, the generation of large volumes of waste and several other environmental effects. As a result, the search for an efficient strategy for solid waste management is gaining momentum.

The urgency acquires even greater relevance when it becomes clear that most of the United Nations’ 17 sustainable development objectives and their goals are directly linked to solid waste management. It is worth mentioning that within this context, public awareness is essential for proper waste management, which also addresses social and demographic problems.

Globally, the increase in population density, the migration from rural to urban areas, and industrialization are generating massive amounts of waste, which are generating serious economic, social and socio-demographic challenges.

Global waste is projected to be 3.4 billion tons per year by 2050. Solid waste management is the most difficult challenge that many countries are currently facing[1]. The energy demand and materials requirements are dominated by a linear model, which puts serious stress on the resources available and on the environment.

The anthropogenic use of fossil resources generally ends up in the atmosphere as greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and causes a seemingly insurmountable problem. Fossil resources are finite, hence alternative resources and renewable processes are a fundamental prerequisite for future generations.

The switch from a linear model to a circular economy model is among the world’s main objectives for managing resources in a more eco-efficient way. Nature's own state of sustainability is based entirely on the circularity of all its material needs. Closing anthropogenic cycles reduces the consumption of raw materials based on fossil fuels, increases resources efficiency, promotes the entry of renewable resources into the system and minimizes environmental impact.

This prompts urban areas to pave the way toward sustainable strategies. The growing concept of a circular economy focuses on the reuse and recycling of materials in biological and technical cycles to reduce the generation of waste. Material flows in cities have a remarkable value; there are diverse opportunities for waste recovery through the generation of energy, nutrients and value-added products. Efforts should be directed toward the recovery of resources from waste, and depending on the characteristics of these materials, they can be reused, repaired, renewed, recovered or recycled.

The widespread use of non-renewable resources causes GHG emissions and pollution that degrades the quality of the environment. This creates the need for alternative and renewable sources for the production of energy and chemicals. The application of petroleum-based plastics decreases oil reserves and, at the same time, leads to plastic pollution due to the waste disposal problem. The linear economy is based on the assumption that resources are abundant, available, and waste can be easily disposed of. The circular economy follows important economic policy principles[2].

Within this context and with a view to a sustainable future, the JLL Mexico Energy and Sustainability Services team has designed a program for the integral management of urban solid waste based on circular economy principles. Our aim is to reduce the burden on natural resources, minimize the amount of waste that is sent to landfill, the recovery of some types of waste and, therefore, the reduction of greenhouse gases that are emitted into the atmosphere.

We are looking forward to implementing our circular economy model within the different business lines of JLL Mexico, based on specific actions regarding correct waste disposal, creation of urban gardens, recycling, reincorporation of raw materials in production cycles and developing a culture of responsibility.

With the development of this program, we want to become an agent of change to promote a model of resilient cities, implementing solutions in the ​​circular economy area.

Our mission is to implement comprehensive waste management programs that promote the circular economy and help to make visible the sustainability commitment of our partners (clients, suppliers, collaborators, communities and public and private organizations), promote correct waste disposal, create urban gardens, recycle and reincorporate raw materials in production cycles and develop a culture of responsibility.

The specific objectives of this program are:

Environmental: Reduce the impact of real estate regarding waste management through the implementation of the circular economy model; encouraging the generation of green spaces within large cities to reduce environmental impact, CO2 emissions and reintegrating materials to production cycles.

Social: Promote social development through programs that promote participation of our clients, suppliers, collaborators, communities and public and private organizations in waste projects and urban gardens to improve our life quality.

Economic: Redirect the current economic model with a responsible approach, implementing circular economy processes that generate benefits by reducing the use of raw materials, valuing materials, and reintegrating waste into a value chain; in addition to providing economic benefits from urban gardens.

Regarding the program:

1. Promote sustainable waste management in the different real estate sectors (projects, facilities, and property management).

2. Increase the participation of clients and partners.

3. Promote it as one of the social programs within the energy and sustainability business line of ​​JLL Mexico.

4. Replicate it in different areas of Mexico City and in the long term, throughout the national territory.

5. Share the model and success stories with JLL globally to replicate it in other countries.

6. Achieve the zero waste to landfill certification in our waste management projects.

At JLL, our team of experts can support you on your journey to zero waste with a portfolio of services that meet your needs, designing comprehensive reduction plans to help you meet your sustainable goals and targets.

 

[1] Critical review on technological advancements for effective waste management of municipal solid waste—Updates and way forward. Priya Prajapati (2021)

[2] Circular bioeconomy approaches for sustainability. S. Venkata Mohan (2020

Photo by:   Ruth Corona