Patricia Astrain is the founder and director of this promising company that is RECIRCULAR. Awarded and praised since its inception, it puts in value the strategy of giving a second life to much of the waste, valorizes waste, ultimately puts in value the circular economy model, and demonstrates that waste does not exist.
We talk to Patricia about Recircular and the circular economy she proposes.
How was Recircular born, and what is its objective?
It all started when I immersed myself in the world of entrepreneurship with a consulting company in the optimization of production processes. I learned a lot, and, above all, I identified the need to introduce sustainability and social innovation in companies and the industrial sector in a definitive way in its DNA. After a long time and following research, I found that the circular economy provided solutions to this demand. Therefore, our goal in RECIRCULAR is to bring the circular economy closer to companies by creating opportunities through waste valorization, demonstrating that environmental and social aspects accompany the economic ones and contributing to it with our impact measurement methodology.
RECIRCULAR puts value on the secondary commodities market. What does recirculate contribute to this market?
RECIRCULAR brings digitization and automation of resource recovery processes. However, it also brings all these aspects:
- – accessibility for any kind of entity, from small organizations to large companies
- – information on opportunities for re-use and recycling of resources
- – the connection between generating companies and potential consumers, who are automatically notified on our platform
- – traceability and transparency of resource recovery transactions, by closing them on our digital platform; measurement of the environmental and social benefits generated, with our impact measurement methodology, with which we calculate indicators of carbon footprint reduction, water, and energy consumption, and increased life expectancy.
What type of customers are recircular’s services aimed at, and what is RECIRCULAR‘s value proposition for waste-producing and managing companies?
We target companies with production, i.e., those that have waste and need raw materials and waste managers. Our value proposition is identifying opportunities to give a second life to their waste, generating economic savings and environmental and social benefits that we measure and report to our clients.
Can you briefly explain how the beta platform you have launched works?
Our beta platform is a fully functional system that includes the functionalities I mentioned before, but in which we select the type of companies that can enter the platform. The moment a company registers by entering the company data and we verify that it meets the profile mentioned above, we will give it access so that it can register its available resources, discover the materials that are already for sale on the platform, and even the requests for secondary raw materials that have been registered. If, for example, you want to register some waste or by-products, you will fill in a form with details needed by a potential consumer. The algorithm automatically identifies re-use and recycling options and informs those companies that can use them in their manufacturing processes as raw materials. You will have access to all the secondary raw materials registered, and you will be able to consult the details of each product, request samples, and consult doubts directly with the seller. If you choose to buy, payment is made securely through a payment gateway. Finally, the environmental and social benefits generated by using secondary raw materials instead of virgin materials will be calculated.
Is the raw material sourcing distance, so to speak, the impact of the carbon footprint, taken into account when considering the recovery and sale of waste as a raw material?
Without a doubt, distance is one of the factors we take into account in our indicator calculations. We also provide information on the location of resources, and users can filter those in their region, for example. In the future, we will be integrating more functionalities that prioritize nearby solutions.
How does recirculate work with those companies whose waste does not offer second recovery opportunities, and is incineration (energy generation) considered a recovery option?
Many resources are incinerated or dumped due to a lack of knowledge of other opportunities with more excellent added value. At RECIRCULAR, we specialize in precisely this type of complex waste that currently has no solution. We can identify opportunities where there seem to be none, although this requires time, an innovative approach, and some investment.
One of the significant challenges of the coming decades will be the management of solid urban waste, putting an end to the landfills generating so many problems. Is it possible to valorize all that amount of waste, where and how can we find the solution to this problem, are you recycling, or are you planning to be involved with the public sector in this enormous challenge in the future?
As in the previous question, I do not doubt that solutions can be found for municipal solid waste to prevent it from ending up in landfills. To that end, we would be happy to collaborate with the public sector and offer our proposal, not only to provide a solution to some of the waste that is generated but also to map it and allow them to develop territorial strategies that take advantage of those resources and add that local and regional value.
Is it feasible today to change the economic model we have based on obsolescence, consumption, and throw-away?
It is not only feasible, but it is also necessary, although it is not easy. A change is never straightforward and even less so when it has the scope proposed by the circular economy, which involves a complete change in the production and consumption model. However, as companies, citizens and consumers, we should not be overwhelmed by covering everything proposed by the circular economy because it can be so complex that we are paralyzed and do nothing. We must begin to take small steps and make small changes to help us move forward in these transition processes. With education, training, dissemination of examples and good practices, and implementing concrete, tangible and measurable actions, we will make progress, which is precisely what we try to do from RECIRCULAR.
Is recycling the real solution to the waste problem, or should we adopt other strategies such as eco-design of products and reduction of packaging, or will the real revolution reduce consumption and renounce the exponential growth that is endangering the survival of the planet?
The circular economy is not recycling, but much more, and recycling is not the solution to all our problems. It is clearly a strategy that currently helps to reduce waste generation. However, the last waste reduction strategy should be resorted to, as the waste hierarchy clearly outlines other strategies that add more value, such as re-use and reduction.
In these times, choosing to propose new economic models is an exercise of courage. The circular economy is undoubtedly a present, more necessary than ever, for civil society and especially for the business sector, since the consumption of resources that we have reached is unsustainable, not to say that we have already exceeded the sustainable supply capacity of the planet. Companies like RECIRCULAR are a clear example that it is possible to move towards society and the planet we need and want with talent, responsibility, and commitment.