Updated: Mar 29
A circular economy is an economic system aimed at eliminating waste and the continual use of resources. In contrast to the ‘take-make-waste’ linear model, a circular economy is regenerative by design and aims to gradually decouple growth from the consumption of finite resources.
It is based on three principles:
1. Design out waste and pollution- A circular economy reveals and designs out the negative impacts of economic activity that cause damage to human health and natural systems. This includes the release of greenhouse gases and hazardous substances, the pollution of air, land, and water, as well as structural waste such as traffic congestion.
2. Keep products and materials in use- A circular economy favours activities that preserve value in the form of energy, labour, and materials. This means designing for durability, reuse, remanufacturing, and recycling to keep products, components, and materials circulating in the economy. Circular systems make effective use of bio-based materials by encouraging many different uses for them as they cycle between the economy and natural systems.
3. Regenerate natural systems- A circular economy avoids the use of non-renewable resources and preserves or enhances renewable ones, for instance by returning valuable nutrients to the soil to support regeneration, or using renewable energy as opposed to relying on fossil fuels.
Biological materials - those materials that can safely re-enter the natural world, once they have gone through one or more use cycles, where they will biodegrade over time, returning the embedded nutrients to the environment.
Technical materials – those materials that cannot re-enter the environment. These materials, such as metals, plastics, and synthetic chemicals, must continuously cycle through the system so that their value can be captured and recaptured.
In a circular economy, biological materials are the only ones that can be thought of as consumable, while technical materials are used. It makes no sense to say that we consume our washing machines and cars in the same way that we consume food. Let us each think of one small step you can take everyday to eliminate waste from your lifestyle, and remember, the smallest of the smallest steps count. Tell us your thoughts in the comments below or on our Instagram account.