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How We Can Move From a Linear to a Circular Carbon Economy

Published: November 3, 2021

Repurposing waste and emissions to make new products, de-fossilising industry, and mitigating climate change are at the heart of creating a circular economy.

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Here, Dr Célia Sapart, Director Communications and Climate Science at CO2 Value Europe, talks to dss+ about how new ways to manage CO2 emissions and waste, focusing on location, fair regulations and clear communication, can be game-changers.

Q: Can you describe your vision of a circular economy?

Dr Célia Sapart: At its essence, a circular economy should allow one industry to create waste that can become feedstock for another industry. This compares to the current linear economy, where most waste goes into landfills and the atmosphere. It requires finding a new way to manage waste, which is a significant challenge. But by rethinking how the industrial concept and business model can work together, a path starts to emerge. For example, is there a business nearby that needs your waste to make new products or are you close to a reliable renewable energy source to convert this waste into valuable products? When we speak about carbon circularity, so how to use CO2 emissions from one industry as feedstock for another, location is key. Ports are good examples as they have large emitters of CO2, renewable energy sources, infrastructure to transport gases and other products and space to allow for the deployment of CO2 conversion technologies to produce, for example, renewable fuels for ships and other heavy transport. So most of the infrastructure required for developing a circular carbon economy is in one place or nearby. This is the concept of industrial symbiosis.

Q: Climate change and reducing CO2 emissions is high on the sustainability agenda. But what is the impact on business models?

Dr Célia Sapart: I think a significant benefit of creating a sustainable industry is business survival. An over-reliance on fossil fuels to produce goods and services is no longer a viable business model. Right now, we are releasing gigatonnes of CO2 and other greenhouses gases into the atmosphere and degrading life on Earth. We are very far from the image of the polar bear marooned on ice; today, our entire society and human species are most in danger. So while the first urgent step is to reduce carbon emissions, we need to have an holistic approach and change our collective story of “always more” to a new story based on the essential. But we also need to carefully think about what we do with the emissions we inevitably produce and explore creative strategies such as carbon capture utilisation (CCU) to increase our chances reaching net zero. Read full article

There is no magical solution to climate change mitigation… it’s essential to focus on combining a wide range of solutions in the most efficient way.

Dr Célia Sapart, Director Communications and Climate Science at CO2 Value Europe