Circular economy

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What is circular economy?

Circular economy is a new production and consumption model that ensures sustainable growth over time. With the circular economy, we can drive the optimization of resources, reduce the consumption of raw materials, and recover waste by recycling or giving it a second life as a new product.

The aim of the circular economy is therefore to make the most of the material resources available to us by applying three basic principles: reduce, reuse and recycle. In this way, the life cycle of products is extended, waste is used and a more efficient and sustainable production model is established over time. The idea arises from imitating nature, where everything has value and everything is used, where waste becomes a new resource. In this way, the balance between progress and sustainability is maintained.

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Discover through the "Dale una vuelta" series the stories of people who drive the #circulareconomy

Gráfico economía lineal y circular

What is the difference between the circular economy and the linear economy?

Until now we have lived with linear production models, in other words, we extract, produce, consume, and discard. The society in which we live means that the pace of consumption is accelerating, a model that is fast but unsustainable for the planet.

The circular economy establishes a more sustainable production and consumption model  in which raw materials are kept longer in production cycles and can be used repeatedly, therefore generating much less waste. As its name suggests, the essence of this model is that resources are kept in the economy for as long as possible, making it possible to use the waste we generate as raw material for other industries.


What are the principles of the circular economy?


Most of us are familiar with the 3R rule, which is essential for sustainable development and preserving the environmental balance: reduce, reuse, and recycle. 

In other words, what is obtained from nature returns to it when its lifecycle is over in a cyclical and environmentally friendly way. But, did you know that there are four other rules? These 7Rs are the necessary steps to achieve a circular economy:

  • Redesign: Thinking and designing products so that their manufacturing process consumes fewer raw materials, extends their lifecycle, and generates less waste (or at least waste that is easier to recycle). This increases environmental protection.
  • Reduce: Change our consumption habits towards a more sustainable model. If we reduce consumption, we avoid the generation of waste, the use of raw materials, and therefore reduce the impact on the environment.
  • Reuse: Reusing or repurposing products to extend their lifecycle.
  • Repair: Until now, when a product broke down, we tended to replace it. However, repairing it is not only cheaper, but also avoids the use of new raw materials, saves energy, and does not generate environmental waste.
  • Renovate: Update old objects so that they can be reused as vintage, e.g. furniture.
  • Recycle: Promote best practices in waste management and use what you can as raw material to manufacture new products.
  • Recover: Give new uses to products that are going to be discarded, for example, using plastic bottles to create watering systems, flower pots, or bird feeders.
Sello AENOR estrategia 100% circular

We received the AENOR Circular Strategy certificate

For our circular economy strategy aligned with the principles of: sharing, optimizing, closing the loop, virtualizing, exchanging, regenerating, innovating, and remaining transparent. During the certification process, the AENOR audit team verified our firm commitment to sustainability and the circular economy.

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An ambitious goal for 2030

Our industrial facilities are being adapted to use multiple types of waste from different sources and convert them into raw materials to produce fuels and more sustainable materials.

The aim is to use 4 million metric tonnes per year and mitigate more than 7 million metric tonnes of CO2 per year by 2030.

Currently, we are analyzing more than 40 types of waste and technologies to make possible the production of renewable fuels and circular petrochemical materials.

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At the Repsol Technology Lab, we place technology at the service of the circular economy