In order to obtain sustainability, we must look beyond the surfaces of basic environmental care. There must be a disruptive change in both societal and business behaviors. This involves a transition from linear ‘make-use-dispose’ method of economy and business pattern to a ‘make-use-recycle’ method. This gently reflects the Circular Economy (CE)
DEFINITIONS OF THE CIRCULAR ECONOMY
Though having the primary aim of sustainability, the Circular Economy has been defined in different contexts, by different scholars, organizations and people.
Two widely used definitions are by: The World Economic Forum, and Ellen McArthur Foundation
The World Economic Forum defined Circular economy as “an industrial system that is restorative or regenerative by intention and design. It replaces the end-of-life concept with restoration, shifts towards the use of renewable energy, eliminates the use of toxic chemicals, which impair reuse and return to the biosphere, and aims for the elimination of waste through the superior design of materials, products, systems, and business models. ”
Ellen McArthur Foundation proposes that “looking beyond the current take-make-dispose extractive industrial model, a circular economy aims to redefine growth, focusing on positive society-wide benefits. It entails gradually decoupling economic activity from the consumption of finite resources and designing waste out of the system. Underpinned by a transition to renewable energy sources, the circular model builds economic, natural, and social capital. It is based on three principles: design out waste and pollution; keep products and materials in use; regenerate natural systems.”
The circular economy is basically an economic model with the primary objective of producing sustainable goods and services in a sustainable way, by limiting the consumption and waste of resources (e.g. water, raw materials) and, the production of waste.
In contrast to the linear economy which based on ‘take-make-use-dispose’; circular economy mediates the gap between production and the natural ecosystem by proposing to ‘take-make-use-recycle’ pattern.
The circular economy model sufficiently graces the overall framework of sustainable development, and is part of a global strategy which utilizes the principles of the green economy, industrial ecology, eco-design or the economy of functionality, amongst other things.
This has a double implication which, on one hand implies eliminating waste – composting biodegradable waste and/or reusing, remanufacturing and recycling non-biodegradable; and on the other, implies eradicating the use of chemical substances and transiting into the use of renewable energy.
PRINCIPLES OF CIRCULAR ECONOMY
The circular economy encompasses vast sectors of activity and can be grossly grouped into 7 complementary patterns of production and consumption which, when ensues intense, sensible synergy when combined. They include
- Sustainable procurement. This involves the development and strict implementation of a responsible purchasing policy
- Ecodesign. The process of reducing the environmental impacts of a product or service throughout its life cycle (aka Eco-friendly/ Environmental friendly)
- Industrial and territorial ecology. This is the search for eco-industrial synergies on business level scale – the waste of one company becomes the resources of another one
- Economics of functionality. A collaborative economy that supports use over possession and thus tends to sell services related to products rather than the products themselves
- Responsible consumption. Rational and acceptable choice and consumption of products with guidance of social and ecological criteria
- Extending the duration of use: through repair, reuse and repurpose
- Recycling. Treatment, recovery and/or transformation of non-biodegradable materials contained in collected waste
The circular economy (CE) model offers a new chance of innovation and integration between natural ecosystems, businesses, our daily lives, and waste management. Find out below the definition, meaning, principles, advantages, and barriers to a circular economy model.
More in-depth on the goals, benefits and challenges of can be read in this article.