What is the Circular Economy?
Circular economy is an alternative for the “Take, Make, Consume and Dispose” mindset and business model.
It is easiest to imagine first if we look at the living natural world where there is no landfill, no waste: in this biological cycle things live and die and are recycled and repurposed by nature in a circular manner. There is no waste.
Unlike the human world where we have adopted, for many years as part of the industrial revolution, a linear economic approach to growth where we end up with land fill, the Circular Economy is a restorative and regulative model by design. What used to be regarded as waste can be turned into a resource. Design and production are made with the end of the product lifecycle in mind and taking into account the materials involved.
The Circular Economy aims to keep products, components, and materials at their highest utility and value at all times. It preserves and enhances natural capital, optimises resource yields, and minimises systems risks, and it works at every scale.
Circular Economy Principles:
- Preserve and enhance natural capital
- Optimise resources yields
- Foster system effectiveness
- Design out waste (with biological materials) non-toxic, so they can be simple composted; design out waste with in technical materials (man-made compounds) designed to be used again with minimal energy and highest quality retention
- Build resilience through diversity (modularity, versatility, and adaptability)
- Work towards energy from renewable sources
- Think in systems: Elements are considered in relation to their environmental and social context.
- Think in cascades – extract additional value from products and materials by cascading them through other applications.
The future of sales in the Circular Economy
The circular economy will change how we view ownership: Return and Renew will become a real concept i.e. things will be licenced then returned to the owner/manufacturer when we have finished with them and then they will be reused in some way.
For instance, there is The Circular Economy Club (CEC) which is the global network of Circular Economy designers, engineers, economists and strategists who are resetting the world standards (https://www.circulareconomyclub.com/)
The Circular Economy seeks to rebuild capital whether this is financial, manufacturing, human, social or natural.
Human beings have demonstrated time and time again their ingenuity. We have amazing talent to deal with challenges and create new ideas, new services, new systems to deal with adversity.
There’s a world of opportunity to re-think and re-design the way we produce and consume.
There is so much opportunity here if we go out on a limb and rethink how we do business, rethink progress, rethink economics, and rethink society.
It all starts with Opportunity. Go out on a limb…
How can you get started?
Here is a great short video to explain the concept in about 3.48 minutes Rethinking Progress: the circular economy