Climate change is a topic that has been talked about a lot in school in recent years. I even did a project in my biology class about proposing a way to protect our ecosystem as it is important that we act now on these important topics. As most of Greece is composed of many islands it calls for eco-innovations.
Greece focuses on renewable energy and this can be seen throughout the city of Athens as we saw many solar panels as well as wind turbines to promote clean energy. Although these measures have been taken to promote clean energy, in recent years the uptake of clean energy has slowed down tremendously and it is seen as Greece ranks very low compared to other countries within the EU as it is below their average but it is slowly creeping up it. Most of these eco-innovations rely heavily on research activities that are funded by the EU, this is a struggle for Greece as these eco-innovations require technological innovations and that is not Greece’s strong suit. As a result of this there are policies being put into place to help with this struggle, and the first step is the implementation of a circular economy.
The recent economic crisis within Greece took a large toll on the country and this affected environmental protection within the country. This can be seen through lack of public knowledge on environmental protection innovations, malpractice by authorities, and limited enforcement of laws by local authorities.
Greece relies heavily on innovation to help with its technological advancements as this is something that Greece struggles with. Most startups go to the EU for patents for better chances of funding which Greece can not provide which is hurting them with the new startups that could help them tremendously with innovation, Greece only has about 4.68 million patents compared to the EU average of 17.31 million.
Greece is still below average eco-innovation activities as only small or medium sized enterprises use sustainability in Greece is 18% compared to the EU average of 25%. There is more growth in recent years of eco-innovation in different sectors of Greece but they can not be classified as fully developed and sustainable as they are not at their full potential and need improvement. Although Greece is on the right track there is still a lot that needs to be done to bring it to standard especially in comparison to the EU.
When it comes to sustainability issues, in the past environmentalists, governments, and businesses have focused on reduce-reuse-recycle. However the present shows this is not the most effective sustainable approach. The results for only focusing on reduce-reuse-recycle have shifted environmentalists to priorities a circular economy instead. Essentially, a circular economy is an industrial system that is purposefully designed to be restorative. Companies need to be focusing on having more sustainable procedures, instead of only thinking about the end result. Typically, companies have a more linear process. This entails a take-make-consume-throw away procedure. This is not sustainable because when the product has been used and the consumer is done it ends up in a landfill typically. Unlike a linear economy, a circular economy is closed. This means waste is reduced as little as possible because anything that is produced is transferred and used somewhere else. This is a continuous pattern. The release of greenhouse gasses, all pollution and traffic congestion are all factored out in a circular economy. The products are designed to be durable, resued, remanufactured, and recycled. This helps to keep the products circulating as long as they possibly can to be the most sustainably effective. A circular economy encourages products that can be circulating instead of just using them all up. Along with this, fossil fuels and non-renewable energy are avoided. Instead a circular economy reaches towards using and preserving renewable resources. Valuable nutrients are returned back to the soil to improve the environment. The concept of a circular economy is necessary as we progress as a society. If we continue using the linear economy, resources will become very limited and the consequence of our actions will affect future generations. As the world population continues to grow we need to be more considerate of the environment and how our actions will affect it. Studies show that we are throwing away resources that could be remanufactured at an alarming rate. The United Nations has informed us that “global resource extraction has more than tripled since 1970, over 90% of raw materials are not reused.” A circular economy is not only beneficial to the environment but also the consumers and economy. For consumers they are provided with high quality sustainable services, reduce ownership costs, and improve health. This system boosts economic growth, reduces cost of materials, and creates new jobs. Overall a circular economy is the future for companies and needs to be implemented faster.
Before taking this class, I had no idea what the term industrial symbiosis really meant. However, after reading this article and taking this class, I feel much more informed on the topic and can definitely see more sustainable companies adopting this environmentally friendly method of doing things. The article defines industrial symbiosis as, “a relationship between two or more firms that exchange their waste (materials – energy – water), as feedstock for the production process.” This simply means rather than a firm throwing away its unneeded waste, a company is instead donating the waste to another firm to use as something else. This strategy is overall better for the environment because ultimately there is a strong effort to prioritize the protection of the environment by limiting the amount of waste that is actually being thrown out where it is put to no use.
Some of the key points this method focuses on are environmental management and pollution prevention. Furthermore, this includes recycling, using products to their full life cycle as intended by producers, and of course, reusing the waste that has been created among partnering firms. I found it interesting how the article noted that Greece, in particular, has been shown to have a production capacity of less than 60,000 tons of waste each year. Not much waste is generally recovered in Greece. Instead, it is shipped to neighboring countries like Italy and where it is then dealt with there.
One other interesting section I noticed in the article was the topic of waste compatibility. This really just talks about how compatible waste can be and how it is used for other things. An example from the reading talks vividly about agriculture and how most of the raw materials used in agriculture are fit for use in other sectors. Some of these listed materials can include malt, yeast, and seed residues in which they are all used for other farming activities. I also found it interesting how the physical characteristics of waste could affect their spatial allocation. I remember learning in my transportation class there are five main forms of transportation that are via: pipe, truck, air, boat, and rail. When deciding which form of transportation to pick when shipping goods, physical characteristics come into play. A great example of this from the article is found when the research talks about transporting gas and liquid waste. The most efficient way to transport this waste is obviously through pipes, rather than via truck. However, by doing it via pipe there is not a lot of waste that can be transported as the space is rather limited compared to the trucking side. Therefore, the spatial allocation instantly decreases.