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Sustainable Materials Management and Circular Economy are both frameworks for considering the way we interact with the world's resources. Different organizations and institutions across the world have adopted one philosophy or the other. To some, there seems to be little overlap of the two, and to others, they are perceived as being interchangeable. This paper evaluates Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) and Circular Economy (CE) individually and in comparison to see how truly different these frameworks are from one another. This comparison is then extended into a theoretical walk-through of an SMM treatment of concrete pavement in contrast with a CE treatment. With concrete being a ubiquitous in the world's buildings and roads, as well as being a major constituent of Construction & Demolition waste generated, its analysis is applicable to a significant portion of the world's material flow. The ultimate test of differentiation between SMM and CE would ask: 1) If SMM principles guided action, would the outcomes be aligned with or at odds with CE principles? and conversely 2) If CE principles guided action, would the outcomes be aligned with or at odds with SMM principles? Using concrete pavement as an example, this paper seeks to determine whether or not Sustainable Materials Management and Circular Economy are simply different roads leading to the same destination.
Though about 75 percent of American waste is recyclable, only 30 percent of it is actually recycled and less than ten percent of plastics disposed of in the United States in 2015 were recycled. A statistic like this demonstrates the immense need to increase recycling rates in order to move towards cultivating a circular economy and benefiting the environment. With Arizona State University’s (ASU) extensive population of on-campus students and faculty, our team was determined to create a solution that would increase recycling rates. After conducting initial market research, our team incentives or education. We conducted market research through student surveys to determine the level of knowledge of our target audience and barriers to entry for local recycling and composting resources. Further, we gained insight into the medium of recycling and sustainability programs they would be interested in participating in. Overall, the results of our surveys demonstrated that a majority of students were interested in participating in these programs, if they were not already involved, and most students on-campus already had access to these resources. Despite having access to these sustainable practices, we identified a knowledge gap between students and their information on how to properly execute sustainable practices such as composting and recycling. In order to address this audience, our team created Circulearning, an educational program that aims to bridge the gap of knowledge and address immediate concerns regarding circular economy topics. By engaging audiences through our quick, accessible educational modules and teaching them about circular practices, we aim to inspire everyone to implement these practices into their own lives. Though our team began the initiative with a focus on implementing these practices solely to ASU campus, we decided to expand our target audience to implement educational programs at all levels after discovering the interest and need for this resource in our community. Our team is extremely excited that our Circulearning educational modules have been shared with a broad audience including students at Mesa Skyline High School, ASU students, and additional connections outside of ASU. With Circulearning, we will educate and inspire people of all ages to live more sustainably and better the environment in which we live.
With the rise of fast fashion and its now apparent effects on climate change, there is an evident need for change in terms of how we as individuals use our clothing and footwear. Our team has created Ray Fashion Inc., a sustainable footwear company that focuses on implementing the circular economy to reduce the amount of waste generated in shoe creation. We have designed a sandal that accommodates the rapid consumption element of fast fashion with a business model that promotes sustainability through a buy-back method to upcycle and retain our materials.