Circular economy is the driving force of Latin American and Caribbean recovery

November 22, 2021

Preserving the value of materials and products as necessary by preventing the return to Nature of the largest amount possible of waste is among the goals of circular economy. Another goal is to make products linger long by means of reuse, recovery or repair.

By 2030, as many as 2.5 billion tons of waste are estimated to be produced annually around the world, up to 3.4 billion in 2050.

A study authored by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), entitled Circular economy in Latin America and the Caribbean, mentions that in 2016, over 605,000 tons of waste daily will be produced in the region, averaging 0.97 kg per capita per day. By 2050 such a number could heighten by 25%.

Caribbean countries display higher numbers as a result of tourism. Notably, the Caribbean Sea has the largest contamination by plastics in the world.

Latin America has barely implemented eco-efficiency of a circular economy for lack of regulations encouraging such transition. Interestingly, the reform of public policies and management systems is a must for the stages of production, consumption and final disposal.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, paper, cardboard and glass are among the most recycled materials behind plastics. For their part, electrical appliances and electronic devices have a high impact on the environment due to their life cycle. Thus, waste management is a golden opportunity for environmental and economic improvement in the region.

Recycling is appropriate for the organization of new businesses and job creation; it is also good to raise awareness.

Some Latin American and Caribbean countries are moving towards circular transition. Colombia, for instance, plans to enlarge the recycling and reuse rate from 8.7% nowadays to 17.9% in 2030.

Waste management in Latin America is relative. Chile, Colombia and Mexico boast the highest recycling indexes. Direct and indirect effects on annual production for these three countries range from 0.53% to 1.1% of GDP.

The extrapolation for Latin America and the Caribbean shows a production hike from 0.19% to 0.35% of regional GDP.

In addition to prevention and control of the environmental impact, waste management and recycling have a great potential of job creation and economic development for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Key topics: pymes