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With the global population expected to reach 10 billion people by 2050, it is critical to evaluate and redesign our current product production systems for end-of-life management if we wish to provide the growing global middle class with the quality of life we all enjoy. This session will educate the attendees on the circular economy, the concepts of life cycle thinking, and the need to adapt purchasing policies to drive innovation in the new product development process.The panel will address how energy and materials fit into the circular economy and will provide their experiences with deciding on appropriate approaches for materials at their end-of-life, including the application of life cycle thinking to generate the greatest environmental returns at sustainable costs.
Much of the discussion surrounding the circular economy rightly focuses on returning materials back into useful production many products and materials are not currently designed for a circular economy model. Sustainable purchasing, product transparency, and Sustainable Product Innovation have set the stage to change the current system, while a more holistic approach also considers the interplay of materials and energy. Life cycle thinking and analysis is a critical tool in evaluating the trade-offs inherent in end-of-life management options. The eloquence of applying life cycle thinking in decision making is that it is self-adjusting as new methods become practical, they become part of the evaluation.