August Corrons is Director of the University Master’s Degree in Sustainability and Social Responsibility Management at the UOC. He was recently in Reus, within the framework of a conference on circular economy organized together with the Reus town hall and the Reus Chamber.
Why does the second hand fire? Is it the legislative framework, changes among consumers or something circumstantial?
That this phenomenon exists, it is certain. On the one hand, there is a self-regulatory framework, such as that of investment funds, and on the other, pressure from society, more aware of the importance of recycling, reusing and not wasting. In the end, companies, either because of a legislative framework that forces them or because of consumers who are pressing, go further along this line. That said, I think that having opted now, in many cases, for second-hand vehicles or reused laptops is a rather circumstantial situation.
Because of the crisis in the supply chain?
Yes. Seeing the dependence on products that come from abroad has raised awareness a little more about local consumption, with products that perhaps provide the same service and meet expectations but, right now, the circular economy is a matter of sheer necessity. Beyond this, at a European level, any decision that goes through locating and not depending on the outside, goes through strategic planning. And we still have a lot left.
But the European Commission has long-term strategies, in 2030, 2050… Isn’t it?
Sure, but one thing is to plan long term and another thing is to materialize it. How did the Glasgow climate summit end? In good intentions, no firm agreement and, above all, a photo. What I want to say is that not enough is being done for this planning to really translate into results.
Is an economic sector being created around circularity?
Capacity for it to be so, there is a lot. Plans are being put on the table, but resources may be lacking. There is already talk of a circular economy within industrial estates, where some companies can use as resources what for others is waste, and collaborative economy initiatives also proliferate; although be careful, because under this term everything is put. Carsharing, local currencies, platforms like Wallapop… there will be more and more initiatives of these, but above all entrepreneurs who see a niche market and a business opportunity here.
The European Commission proposes that fast fashion, where collections and limited series follow each other, go out of style. Is it possible to change that based on regulations?
I do not believe that these changes will take place, because it would be a disturbance in a market that moves a lot of money. Another thing is that there are individual decisions as consumers. But that also depends on the budget, and is linked to the Maslow pyramid, when your previous needs are covered.
In what sense?
You have the freedom to decide if you have the capacity, assuming that not everyone can afford certain clothes.
Their budget is enough for a fast fashion coat for 50 euros, but not for a more sustainable one, but it costs 300 euros. Is that?
Yes. In addition, one thing is the budget and another is awareness. I am very pessimistic about it because, in the end, in many cases what interests the consumer is fashion, beyond the fact that in that brand or company there are bad working conditions, for example. Another thing is that there is a sector of society that is increasingly aware, and that thinks that if it can extend the life of things, then better. But it is a matter of personal decisions, and I do not see that society is going in this direction.