Forests are Key Contributors to a Circular Economy
Single-use plastic cutlery greatly pollutes oceans and takes years to decompose in landfills and garbage dumps. Plastic cutlery photo-degrades with exposure to the sun. It eventually becomes microplastic and remains in our environment for years to come. Thus, it is important to find sustainable alternatives by utilising renewable resources and reducing overall material consumption.
This shifts the focus towards wood and forests. Producing wooden cutlery can replace the use of plastic spoons and forks. By doing so, not only do we reduce material consumption, but also consider the material’s life cycle which begins and ends in the forest. This makes wood a necessary renewable resource. When wood is sourced responsibly, forests are respected throughout their lifecycle.
From the 1st to the 3rd of June 2022, the 43rd meeting of the Joint UNECE/FAO Working Party on Forest Statistics, Economics and Management was held in Geneva. The meeting highlighted how forest-based industries, such as the fashion industry, are now shifting focus to the transition to a circular economy. For dynamic industries like fashion, along with being circular in nature, they must also be sustainable in the long run.
Chief of the joint UNECE/FAO Forestry and Timber Section, Liliana Annovazzi-Jakab emphasised that the forest sector is very effective at employing all materials throughout the production process and throughout its numerous value chains. This may serve as the catalyst for other strategically important industries to move toward circular systems as they currently struggle with large environmental footprints. One of these industries involves single-use plastics. While there are certain environmental and social costs associated with circular processes such as recycling today, such costs will eventually be reduced.
The used resources can be organically restored by forests and forest ecosystems. They are a source of renewable and biodegradable material that can replace polluting and finite resources. In a cascading fashion, different tree parts can be utilised and recycled to produce a range of goods, from higher value to lower value products.
Sustainable forest management has the ability to mitigate the effects of deforestation by 2030, while generating 16 million new employment opportunities and $230 billion in economic prospects. Realising the tremendous prospects of the growth and support of circular bio economies based on forests is of key importance. Such bio economies place biological resources at the core of their production cycle. In addition to considering the potential economic applications of forest resources, bio economies also consider the wellbeing and protection of natural resources. They also include strategies for addressing issues such as industrial waste and emissions.