NewslettersSign inAPP
spainSPAINchileCHILEcolombiaCOLOMBIAusaUSAmexicoMEXICOlatin usaLATIN USAamericaAMERICA


What is the circular economy? How does it work?

There are several initiatives to help reduce mankind’s footprint on Earth. One of those, the circular economy, gives an extended life to what we use.

The benefits of the circular economy

The human race and the planet face many challenges going forward as populations grow and resources are finite. While living conditions have improved for hundreds of millions of people around the globe thanks to progress on many fronts, mankind’s lifestyle has become ever less sustainable.

In the modern era production has been based on a linear economy, where raw materials are extracted from the ground or nature and then at the end of a product’s life span it gets tossed out. This process has resulted in the degradation of our environment and loss of biodiversity as well as being wasteful, creating pollution and contributing to climate change.

There are several initiatives to help reduce mankind’s footprint on Earth. One of those is the circular economy, which through regeneration, seeks to give an extended life cycle to what we use.

What is the circular economy? How does it work?

Unlike a linear economy, or even just recycling, a circular economy is a regenerative model that extends the life cycle of products in the production and consumption chain. Instead of throwing things away or simply returning say an aluminum part to its raw state to be forged again, a circular economy keeps a product within the system through reusing, repairing, refurbishing and recycling existing materials and products as long as possible extending its life cycle and thus avoiding waste. It also involves sharing and leasing which means less products are needed and with it fewer raw materials.

A circular economy divides the material flow into two main cycles; technical and biological. On the technical side, products are designed in a modular way so that they can be disassembled to be more easily reused or repaired to extend their lifespans. As well once that cannot be done the design also facilitates reprocessing and recycling keeping them in the cycle for longer if not indefinitely. This reduces the need for mining or extracting new raw materials to produce new products.

On the biological side, using biodegradable materials whose nutrients can be put back into the earth through composting and fermentation. Thus the resulting “waste” becomes a product that can produce energy resources as well as help regenerate degraded soils to produce new organic materials, beginning the cycle anew.

The idea is far from a pipedream. It is already being embraced by large businesses like Adidas, Burger King and Ikea. The Swedish home décor store has started selling secondhand furnishings, the fast food giant re-usable food packaging and the sportswear multinational shoes that use just one material and no glue.


To be able to comment you must be registered and logged in. Forgot password?