A Vision for the Future: The Circular Economy Model
In 2006, SOIL began working to provide safe, dignified access to in-home sanitation in Haiti, through our EkoLakay toilet service. Since then, the situation in Haiti, and the world at large, has become increasingly complicated. The dread of climate change has become an indisputable reality, exacerbating preexisting vulnerabilities, including the global sanitation crisis. Both the impacts of climate change and the pressing need to find sustainable solutions that make our planet and people more resilient have helped to frame SOIL’s model.
Since its founding, SOIL has sought to revolutionize the approach to sanitation by piloting a circular economy model in Haiti. The UN Environment Programme defines a circular economy model as, “one based on the principles of designing out waste and pollution, retaining the value of materials and products and keeping them in the economy, while also regenerating natural systems. (UNDP)” SOIL’s groundbreaking model includes providing household toilets and removing the waste from communities, — which in turn, prevents the spread of waterborne disease, protects vulnerable aquatic ecosystems from contamination, and provides dignified sanitation for those that have none. After collecting the waste, SOIL then safely treats the collected waste and transforms it into organic compost which is sold to support agriculture, reforestation, and climate change mitigation efforts in Haiti. This circular model simultaneously improves public health, food security, economic development, and ecological resiliency.
Circular economy models are also a valuable defense against climate change through recycling resources, minimizing exploitative processes, and valorizing resources within the value chain. According to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP),
“Circularity provides a model to transform the current economic model towards a sustainable future. Circularity’s underlying objective is that materials should be kept at their highest possible value as they move and are retained within the value chain. This reduces the use of natural resources and environmental impacts per unit of economic activity or output, while continuing to enable improvements in human well-being.”
Further, low-carbon and circular economy policies are complementary and reinforce each other. At its core, the low-carbon economy approach involves drastically decreasing greenhouse gas emissions and circularity has been proven to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across multiple sectors of the economy. An exciting new study on SOIL’s full cycle solution published in the journal Nature Climate Change shows the impact that recycling and composting human waste has on GHG emissions. The article highlights that “the sanitation sector is responsible for a significant amount of global methane emissions, but SOIL has shown that container-based services emit less methane, and compost offers potential for carbon sequestration.”
Circular economy models like SOIL’s are ideal because of the inclusivity that is built in to the model, meaning that they “not only support the conservation of the environment but also the well-being of all.” By using a full cycle solution SOIL, is able to create jobs, reduce inequalities, and improve the overall livelihoods of the communities we serve. Our model has had significant positive impacts in Haiti, one of the most climate vulnerable countries in the world. The circular-economy approach is not only beneficial, it is necessary if we are to combat climate change, restore ecosystems, and empower vulnerable communities around the world.
SOIL depends on individual donations from people like you to fund our work in Haiti. Please consider supporting SOIL today.