Watch Dr. Yasar Atacik’s March 30 presentation to ESRAG’s Projects Webinar for an empowering introduction to the principles of circular economy. Here are some of the key points.

Circularity goes far beyond diverting waste: it starts with designing products that are durable, easy to maintain and repair, and produced sustainably. Public policy can make a huge contribution. The European Union’s Circular Economy Action Plan shows how public policy can accelerate sustainable products and construction. Another breakthrough is the launch of the Global Alliance on Circular Economy and Resources Efficiency (GACERE),  launched in February, 2021 by the EU and 15 other countries. The UN Environment Programme will launch a Global Plastic Treaty in 2024, analogous to the Paris Climate Accord.

Rotarians in business can help move products away from single-use and built-in obsolescence. We should foster business models that support the sharing and reuse of products, maximizing the useful life of the products and their component materials. This newsletter reports on several projects where Rotarians are teaching circular strategies to their communities and regions.

Yasar cited several promising trends, including the worldwide growth of materials matchmaking companies; Loop Industries, which makes PET plastic from 100% recycled feedstock; shared services like Uber, tool lending, and laundromats; and unpackaged retail. Another innovation is companies’ owning products and repairing them throughout their lifetime. “Buy the sturdiest, most energy-efficient product with the longest warranty,” Yasar urges. “Try not to throw out anything. Minimize single-use products.”

Yasar is an ESRAG Director with a PhD in operations research and extensive executive management experience. He became passionate about sustainability during his career in industry. He joined Rotary to bring sustainability to the attention of this civic group he saw as influential in society, and founded District 2420’s Environmental Sustainability Committee and the Istanbul Ecology Rotary Club. He is the founder and executive director of the Turkish Carbon Footprint and Sustainability Association, which is promoting energy efficiency projects for schools.