Last update: 13/03/2024

The economy is key to fighting climate change. That’s why we must continue the shift from a linear to a circular economy to make sure society progresses in a way that is environmentally-friendly. 

The planet’s resources are finite, so it’s crucial that people, governments and companies work together to use them more responsibly. Enter the circular economy, a new model that offers an alternative to the traditional linear economy. 

What’s the linear economy? 

The traditional model where raw materials are collected and transformed into products that consumers use until discarding them as waste, with no concern for their ecological footprint and consequences. It prioritizes profit over sustainability, with products made to be thrown away once they’ve been used.

What’s the circular economy?

Production that has as little impact as possible on the environment by leaving less of a footprint. To make it sustainable, it must follow these three principles: reduce, reuse y recycle.

Design, production and consumption are all based around sustainability. Production must keep energy consumption to a minimum, using renewable sources and non-polluting raw materials. Products must not have a limited shelf life and be built so they can be repaired or recycled.

The key difference is that the linear economy focuses on profitability, irrespective of the product life cycle, whereas the circular economy targets sustainability.

How can the circular economy impact on businesses’ competitiveness?

The circular economy can boost competitiveness, drive innovation and economic growth, and create jobs in new areas. According to the European Commission, the circular economy has the potential to create 700,000 jobs in the next six years and increase the EU’s GDP by an additional 0.5%.

Many companies are already reaping the financial, social and environmental benefits of the circular approach. Some have spent years working on strategies that range from eco-design and reusing materials in production, to circular-based business models.

How is Santander contributing to the circular economy?

At Santander, we run initiatives to reduce our environmental impact. In Poland, Portugal, Spain and the UK, we recycle expired debit and credit cards into street furniture that we donate to public institutions.

In 2023 alone, we recycled 485,155 cards and gave a new life to 2.4 tonnes of plastic. The 4.5 million-plus sustainable cards issued under this initiative helped Santander eliminate 22 tonnes of single-use plastic and 360 tonnes of CO2 equivalent in Spain last year.

Also in 2023, the Spanish Association for Standardization and Certification (AENOR) renewed the Santander Group City’s “Zero Waste” certification with a score of 98.8%. A percentage of our waste is recovered to prevent it being taken to landfill.

In 2019, Santander became the first bank to receive Zero Waste certification. This speaks to our strong commitment to sustainability, respect for the environment, and contribution to the circular economy. 

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