Circular Economy

“The circular economy gives us the tools to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss together, while addressing important social needs.”

Ellen MaCarthur Foundation, Circular Economy: A way to transform our system

Everyone can take part in the circular economy; from individuals to business, charities to governments. We can all explore ways to apply the principles of the circular economy to what they buy, use, and throw away.

In order to understand a circular economy, it is important to first understand our current linear economy:

Linear Economy

Take

Materials and resources are extracted from the earth using carbon intensive processes such as mining and industrial farming.

Take icon

Take

Make

Materials and resources are transported to factories where they are made into products using industrial processes and packaged so they can be sold.

Make icon

Make

Use

Products are distributed to retailers where they are sold to customers. Products are used until they are finished with.

Use icon

Use

Waste

Once consumers are finished with a product and its packaging they are thrown away as waste.

Waste icon

Waste

Linear Economy
  • Take icon

    Take

    Materials and resources are extracted from the earth using carbon intensive processes such as mining and industrial farming.

  • Make icon

    Make

    Materials and resources are transported to factories where they are made into products using industrial processes and packaged so they can be sold.

  • Use icon

    Use

    Products are distributed to retailers where they are sold to customers. Products are used until they are finished with.

  • Waste icon

    Waste

    Once consumers are finished with a product and its packaging they are thrown away as waste.

The circular economy is different to the linear economy as it aims to keep waste to a minimum and gain maximum value from resources. Changing our approach to products and resources reduces our cost to the earth by changing our wasteful and carbon intensive processes to regenerative and sustainable ones.

RETHINK

Rethink – How products and systems can be designed to gain maximum value from resources.

RETAIL

Retail – Consumers can buy and rent products that are reused, refurbished, and made from renewable materials.

REUSE

Reuse – Products are resold, donated, or shared within a community.

REPAIR

Repair – Consumers take broken products to be repaired or repair products at home.

RECYCLE

Recycle – When a product reaches the end of its life it is reprocessed and remade into a new product.

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CIRCULAR ECONOMY

The circular economy aims to create a low-carbon zero waste society by getting maximum value from resources through systems like renting, repair, reuse, redesign, sharing and recycling.

Why is a Circular Economy needed?

Waste is often overlooked as a factor in climate change. However, everything that is thrown away once came from the earth. The natural resources taken from the earth are made into products which are transported, sold, and thrown away. This process of ‘take, make, buy, waste’, and the overconsumption that comes with it, is a significant contributor to climate change.

The circular economy looks to eliminate unnecessary waste by keeping products in use for as long as possible.

By doing this, we can gain maximum value from products and the environmental cost of making, transporting, using, and disposing products is spread over a longer period.

By considering what we buy, what things are made of, how products are designed, and if products can have further use when we are ready to dispose of them, we can massively reduce our environmental impact, as well as help stimulate a thriving local economy by gaining maximum value from products.

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