As the global community faces mounting environmental challenges, the necessity to transition from a linear to circular economy has never been more critical.

The severe stress on the planet due to resource requirements and overflowing landfills demand an immediate shift in how resources are being used for the manufacturing of products, their consumption – and end of life management.

“We can no longer afford to take the planet’s resources for granted,” says Patricia Schröder, CEO of Circular Energy NPC. “To sustain it, we must adopt circular practices that extend the life of our products through reuse, repair, re-furbishment and recycling. This approach is essential to mitigate environmental degradation and ensure a sustainable future.”

Schröder underscores the need for businesses to evaluate their entire supply chain and meet Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) regulations.

“This means companies must take responsibility not just for their products, but also for their environmental impact throughout the product life cycle,” she says. “This includes sourcing materials responsibly, reducing waste during production, and ensuring products are designed for longevity and recyclability.

“Feedback from our South African OEM and retailer members that have made these transitions highlights the importance and opportunity to rethink product design, manufacturing, and business operations to align with circular principles.

“Companies need to ensure their products are durable, easily recyclable and that their manufacturing processes minimise waste,” she adds. “It’s about a holistic system where sustainability is at the core and integrated at every stage – from supplier to producer to the end consumer.”

The concept of EPR is a cornerstone in this transition compelling producers to take full accountability for their products. By adopting EPR, businesses are encouraged to innovate, design more sustainable products, and reduce waste – ultimately fostering a more sustainable economy and future.

Key insights from Circular Energy’s members at its recent conference – themed Enabling Circular Transition – point to the necessity of leveraging emerging technologies, implementing robust policies and ingenuity to take a responsible role and drive the circular economy.

“We can’t continue to exploit the planet’s resources at the current pace without facing dire consequences,” she says. “Adopting a circular economy as society and business is essential to maximising resource use, preventing waste, and protecting the environment from further harm.”

Transitioning to a circular economy is not merely an option, but an urgent necessity requiring businesses to innovate continuously, engage in responsible sourcing, and educate consumers about the importance of sustainability.

“This transition requires a collective effort from all sectors of society,” says Schröder. “Through collective action and a commitment to sustainable practices we can create a resilient future for our planet and generations to come.”