Clear definitions should lead to new opportunities for the circular economy of water

Clear definitions should lead to new opportunities for the circular economy of water

Water plays an important role in many ideas about the circular economy. But sometimes there seems to be some confusion between the worlds of the circular economy and the world of water. Because what does reusing water actually mean? What is the exact meaning of water storage?

Three scholars from Dutch knowledge institutions have designed a framework for researchers, professionals and policy makers with consistent terminology and clear descriptions of the circular economy of water. “And this is necessary, because the lack of a unified language means missed opportunities,” says Stefania Monarito, a researcher at KWR. “This is while understanding the circular economy of water is critical to the water sector so that it can seize new opportunities in sustainable water management.”

Stefania MonaritoYou see that water plays a unique role in the circular economy. It is clearly distinguishable from the goods that are produced,” Monarito explains. “You can see that in the terminology used. In the circular world, reuse means reusing something in the state it is in. In the world of water, reuse means that the water is treated and then used again. It is important for policy makers, for example, but also for scientists and water professionals to have a common language. This leads to a common understanding of the challenges we face.”

Monarito conducted the research with KWR colleagues Caro Mooren and Piero Morseletto of the Free University. Morsilito is the lead author of the resulting paper, “The Circular Economy of Water: Definition, Strategies, and Challenges.”

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“In this article, we wanted to provide not only definitions, but also strategies for achieving a circular economy of water. We also address challenges in legislation, governance and implementation, which are involved in the transition to a circular economy of water.”

In the article, scientists first of all come to the definition of the hydro-circular economy itself. They call it “an economic framework to reduce, conserve and improve water use by avoiding waste, using it efficiently and maintaining quality while protecting and preserving the environment.”

From this definition, Monarito and colleagues elicit nine strategies: rethink, avoid, reduce, replace, reuse, recycle, sequence, store, and retrieve. To give some examples: For example, we see reuse as reusing water for the same or a different purpose without any treatment. We see recycling using water for the same or different purposes after processing. Whereas, Recover refers to recovering valuable materials and retaining or generating energy.”

Monarito hopes that the research will be a starting point for a broader discussion about the circular economy of water. “It starts with the fact that we talk about the same thing in science and when policy is made. The first feedback is positive, and several projects and scientists have already indicated that they will adopt our proposals. We may not be there with an article, but if we can bring a sustainable society closer in this way, Our mission has already been accomplished.”

more information
The circular economy of water: definition, strategies and challenges

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