Danko Aleksic, from ACR+ introduced not only 3Rs but also 9Rs approach during Climate Resilient and Inclusive Cities First Discussion Panel in Surabaya on March 2, 2023. What are they?
By: Hizbullah Arief*
Based in Brussels, Belgium, ACR+ - one of CRIC European Partners - had becoming an Association of Cities and Regions for Sustainable Development in 2017. The organisation has aim at promoting a sustainable resource management and accelerating the transition towards a circular economy on their territories and beyond.
The world is familiar with the term 3R (reduce, reuse and recycle). It is commonly used to explain community practices in using products and managing materials "sustainably" to avoid unnecessary wastes and left-overs that could trigger not only economic and environmental problems but also health problems.
However, the 3R approach is deemed insufficient to handle the world’s growing economic, environmental and health problems triggered by humans’ unsustainable use of resources and lifestyles.
Danko, in presentation entitled "The role of local and regional authorities in promoting the Circular Economy", explained ACR+ vision that consisted of 5 pillars for circular economy. And multi-R approach is one of the five ACR+ pillars along with the other four pillars: territorial hierarchy, the role of LRAs (local and regional associations), shared governance and integrated planning.
ACR+ multi-R approach consists of several interventions to: reduce, reuse, recycle, recover (energy), rethink redesign, repair, remanufacture and lastly redistribute (9Rs). Interventions to reduce, reuse, recycle and recover (energy) are mainly used in driving sustainable consumption, while rethink and redesign interventions are used in sustainable production process. The last three interventions: repair, remanufacture and redistribute are commonly used in sustainable distribution process.
The Multi-R Definition
Dream Civil explained the 4R (reduce, reuse, recycle and recover) concept in its article. The concept is linked to all activities that could reduce the solid waste generation into the environment, by minimizing the use of unnecessary things or products in our daily life. Reuse concept connects to any effort in reusing any product without changing its form and composition. While recycling is an act to process or modify a previously used object and giving it a second life or processing or modifying waste into another form. The last intervention, recovering, is processing materials thrown into the garbage in ways other than being destroyed. For example, methane gas can be recovered from decomposing organic matters and left-over plastic wastes can be used to generate energy.
The next two concepts, rethink and redesign need a little more explanation to justify their meanings. Rethinking according to Oxford Languages involves a constant process of think or consider again about something (such as a policy or course of action), especially in order to make changes to it. While redesigning is the effort to revise in appearance, function, or content. This can be applied not only into redesigning products or material matters but also into policy or course of action.
Luciano Lopez, Assistant Professor & Dean of EHL Campus (Singapore) and Florent Girardin, Assistant Professor at EHL Hospitality Business School, argued in their article "New attitudes to Circular Economy practices: Rethink and redesign" that researchers and experts have claimed that the classic Circular Economy (CE) practices consisting of reusing, reducing or recycling (the 3Rs) are less circular than rethink or redesign practices. Furthermore, the classic 3R practices, as argued above and by various other authors, may be perceived as a cost-reduction strategy instead of a commitment towards a cleaner planet.
This article researched specific question: "Do CE practices with a rethink or redesign approach impact more positively on the clients' willingness to pay a premium price than the so-called classic 3R practices?"
To answer this question, they have used three CE practices (carefully selected among many CE practices by conducting several preliminary studies) dealing with three different issues: water consumption, energy consumption and CO2 emissions. For each of the three practices, they have selected both a classic 3R version and a rethink or redesign version. To showcase the CE practices, they have created a fictitious hotel website and then surveyed several hundred hotel consumers to answer a set of questions based on the fictitious website page.
The results are clear: Rethink or redesign practices do impact willingness to pay positively, while the classic 3R practices have no impact. More specifically, when compared to a hotel without any CE practices, the implementation of rethink or redesign CE practices significantly increases guests’ willingness to pay, whereas the implementation of classic 3R CE practices does not change guests’ willingness to pay significantly more.
Repair, remanufacture and redistribute
For the last two of three concepts, between repair and remanufacture, the definition is a bit confusing. Lacey Reames in "Remanufacture vs. Repair: What is the Difference?" has perfect explanation to differentiate these two concepts.
According to Lacey when a part reaches the end of its use, you have two options. You can throw it out and buy a new one or you can try to get the existing one working again. To repair a part, you would identify the key issue causing its failure then repair that issue. If you chose to have someone remanufacture your part, that part would go through various, maybe multiple, processes and would end up indistinguishable from a newly purchased part. Each one gets the part in working order again but remanufacture practically starts the life cycle of the part all over from the beginning.
The important thing to remember when searching for a repair solution is that a remanufacture may involve a repair but a repair is not always a remanufacture. The key according to Lacey is to ask the right questions whether or not your belongings need to be repaired or remanufactures, their processes and their quality standards.
Now we come to the last concept: redistribute. This concept becomes easier to be explained when we are talking about food waste.
Stephanie Safdie in “Global Food Waste in 2023” explained that over 30% of food is lost or wasted each year. This number is even more striking, given the large number of hungry people in the world. Wasted food is not only inefficient, it’s a social justice issue.
Global food waste has an enormous environmental impact, too. Food waste is a huge source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and wasted natural resources, and therefore – reducing food waste could help to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, establish food security, and encourage healthy food systems.
Food redistribution is a process whereby surplus food that might otherwise be wasted is recovered, collected and provided to people, in particular to those in need.
However, Stephanie said, this is not to say people are ignoring the problem. Many large businesses, startups, and nonprofits see the issue of food waste as an opportunity. Billions of dollars and calories of food are wasted each year, and the benefits of this value can be recovered.
At the end, all of those concepts are utilised to create a circular economy, an economy that tackles climate change and other global challenges like biodiversity loss, waste, and pollution, by decoupling economic activity from the consumption of finite resources.
* Hizbullah Arief is CRIC Project Manager