Biomimicry and the circular economy

Richard James MacCowan
Oct 19 · 2 min read

“Biomimetics can support the path towards the circular economy by offering both conceptual and practical strategies, including ways of creating information-rich materials that transcend the current digital/physical boundaries and advanced sustainable technologies for manufacture.”Veronika Kapsali

When we think of systems in the natural world, we read about how nature recycles all materials. Unfortunately, this is not true as we shouldn’t see enormous amounts of surplus on coal, oil, turf and even limestone, should we? Through geological mechanisms, over millions (even billions) of years, everything will be recycled, but not in our timeframe.

Like biological and ecological systems, the circular economy is not perfect. This industrial ecological system will never achieve absolute zero, but that is missing the point. That said, the move to reduce, reuse, recycle and recover can allow us to tap into the multi-functional systems found in the natural world.

Biological systems and their properties are tradeoffs from competing functions, so no single parameter is “optimal”. But understanding how these competing desires get resolved in a particular environment can provide a way forward. Besides, evolution does not “optimise” even if there is only one goal; evolution finds solutions that are better than existing ones, not “the best”.

Circular economy and biomimicry are better than the existing ones. Let’s look to nature to find new ways to minimise the use of material and energy. Let’s find methods to keep information and resources in the system as long as possible, and finally, if we have to recover them downstream, we ensure that the materials have right chemistry that it can be broken down into non-toxic elements.

If you would like to discuss any of the points raised or are working on ideas for biomimicry and the circular economy, please contact us now.

Written by

Public Speaker, Designer, Workshop Faciltator, Problem-solver/creater! + CEO of the non-profit — Biomimicry Innovation Lab

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