Ecological balance and collaboration, the drive towards an increasingly sustainable future

Equilibrio ecológico y colaboración, el impulso hacia un futuro cada día más sostenible

The concept of balance can be defined as the equilibrium between two or more situations. The term is applicable to different fields, such as physics or economics, but today we will focus on the environment. In speaking of “ecological balance” we cannot fail to mention one of the most valuable natural habitats on the Iberian Peninsula, the Iberian dehesa grassland. This ecosystem, rich in biodiversity, is home to hundreds of species of plants and animals, and has become one of the best examples of balance between development and care for the environment.

Zacarías Torbado, coordinator at Ecoembes’ TheCircularLab

Cork oaks, holm oaks, owlets, woodpeckers, sheep and pigs, and hundreds of other species coexist in a balanced way to provide not just a great socioeconomic pillar for nations but also to fulfil essential functions that contribute to the protection of our planet, such as the maintenance of soils through natural nutrients, the prevention of soil erosion and the germination and growth of fruits that feed the wildlife that inhabits them and society as a whole. The result is directly beneficial in terms of the survival of the planet.

This modus operandi supports the premise that the value of the whole is much more than the sum of its parts, providing us with a lesson that might serve as a perfect example to begin any reflection on what it means to have a collaborative society that promotes a balance between progress and care for nature. 

A reflection that is more than necessary and urgently required in the context in which we find ourselves. Society is facing a crucial challenge that can only be addressed jointly, i.e., shifting from the global production and consumption model of “take, make and dispose” to a more sustainable paradigm that enables the loop to be closed by reducing and giving a second life to waste.

It may seem overwhelming to lay on the line the impact of this linear production model to which we have been accustomed, a model that threatens loss of biodiversity, climate change and, ultimately, the survival of the planet. However, and here we have much to learn from the millions of hectares of grassland that, fortunately, forms part of our country. The fact is that it is in our hands to continue along the path towards a more sustainable future, through collaborative actions that reduce the huge impact of our human footprint on the planet.

Moreover, we have a favourable context, with important roadmaps such as the European Green Deal and the Circular Economy Action Plan setting out the strategic lines to be followed by the different actors: public authorities, businesses and citizens. Only by joining forces, creating synergies amongst all of us and setting specific targets will we be able to facilitate the transition to a more responsible model of society.

At TheCircularLab, the circular economy open innovation centre created by Ecoembes, we have been contributing to the circular economy since 2017 by researching the different stages of the lifecycle of packaging, by moving towards more sustainable and recyclable models, by developing innovative tools that optimise the management of collection, sorting and recycling, and through a continuous search for new entrepreneurial models driven by startups to enhance our environment.  

New models that drive the shift to this new paradigm, based on the 3Rs of the circular economy – reduce, reuse and recycle – and models that coexist in a balanced way in the pursuit of this common goal that concerns us all: environmental protection.

A great example of this, which could be compared to a grassland, are the 200 startups – with different areas of specialisation, such as eco-design, citizen consumption and giving a second life to recycled material – that form part of goCircular Radar, the first map of innovative companies operating in the field of circular economy. goCircular Radar was created as a tool to enhance the visibility of innovative projects, whilst promoting collaboration between the different startups and other companies, public authorities and groups.

Published in: Nº 88 FuturENVIRO – March-April 2022