Circular economy is currently probably the most sought-after concept for a sustainable future. A concept that brings together continued prosperity and resource conservation.
The current way in which products are manufactured and used needs to be improved. We take resources, process them into goods and then throw them away. Humans and manufacturers pollute the environment and also generate toxic waste. The circular economy may be the solution, taking nature as its model.
The three principles of circular economy according to Ellen MacArthur
Since 2010 the Ellen MacArthur Foundation for a change towards the circular economy. She works closely with representatives from business, politics and science to make new ways of sustainable business possible. These three steps enable a circular economy and thus improve our entire economic system:
1. Rethink product design
In a circular economy, products are designed to be repaired and reused. The valuable raw materials do not end up in the garbage, but are brought back to life. This requires a rethinking in the design of products, as well as in research and development.
2. Use what is available
Defective or unusable products are still full of resources, but are currently being thrown away. For example, according to Ellen MacArthur, a garbage truck full of textiles ends up in litter every second. So this step describes the reuse and processing of existing materials. Waste can pass through Recycling and upcycling be reused in an innovative way for other processes.
3. Regenerate ecosystems
Instead of sparing the planet, it actively promotes the strengthening of natural cycles. The nutrients of biological materials are therefore returned to the ecosystem and thus regenerated.
Model of the circular economy, image source: European Parliament
The benefits of the circular economy
According to Ellen MacArthur, the circular economy not only reduces waste and resource consumption, but also brings many other benefits:
- Saving around 700 million dollars in material costs annually
- Around 48% of CO2 emissions can be reduced to 2030
- Every year around 3.000 Euro higher income in European households
Seal - Cradle to Cradle
The principle of "Cradle to Cradle“Production is based precisely on the fact that biological materials are fed back into a biological cycle at the end of their use. The aim is to be able to recondition products such as a shoe as a whole without having to dismantle it into its components. It also promotes values such as human rights, use of renewable energies, inclusion, minimal use of natural resources and social responsibility.
Circular economy has taken nature as its model
The Industrial Revolution has allowed us to make an even greater variety of products from a variety of natural resources. But once they reach the end of their life cycle, they end up as landfill waste. This linear approach of take-benefit-throwing promotes harmful consumer behavior for the planet. The circular economy changes this and is based on natural processes.
Because in nature, the existing substances go through a cycle. Thus, the waste of one animal species becomes the food of another. Living things are born and die again - the nutrients get back into the circulation and create new life. All resources are used again and again, the circle closes. Waste does not arise.
A good life on a healthy planet is possible
Maintaining prosperity while living in harmony with nature? This is made possible by the transformation from a linear to a circular economic model. The circular economy offers a valuable opportunity to preserve our planet long-term and at the same time to have nothing to do without.