The Circular Economy Model: Reuse, Remanufacture or Recycle

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With August 1 marking Earth Overshoot Day, the point during the year that we will have consumed the ecological resources and services that Earth can regenerate in one year, it is clear that something has to change.

The circular economy requires a significant shift in mindset, starting with the design process, which must ensure that goods not only have minimal environmental impact in terms of the use of water, energy and materials, but also that they can easily be repurposed or recycled through a “cradle-to-cradle” approach. It also requires less packaging, higher rates of recycling and, ideally, for consumers to take sustainability into account when they buy.

It is not always easy for companies to change their production to a more circular model. However, consumer demand and pressure from investors can help to create a tipping point at which a circular model becomes a business advantage. Sustainability is likely to become a commercial imperative for many companies in future, meaning that circular economy principles will have an increasing impact.

The benefits of a circular economy for society, the planet and for businesses themselves are clear:

  • Resource productivity is maximised, enabling companies and economies to address emerging resource security and scarcity concerns
  • The environmental impacts of production and consumption are minimised
  • Waste, a problem for humanity and the environment, becomes a resource rather than refuse