What is the Circular Economy?

We currently live in predominantly linear world; we extract, make, use and dispose of goods at a fast pace. This way of operating is threatening the existence of humanity and
material consumption by humans is predicted to outstrip what the planet can sustainably provide by 2050 (Material Economics, 2019)

The circular economy has 4 principles;

  • reduce use of resources,
  • design out waste and pollution,
  • keep products and materials in use for as long as possible and
  • regenerate natural systems

Some organisations suggest that a circular economy could lead to increased GDP. In a report commissioned by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation European GDP could increase as much as 11% by 2030 and 27% by 2050 by following a circular economy development path, compared with 4% and 15% in the current scenario. Also the average disposable income for EU households would increase by €3,000, or 11% higher than the current development path by 2030. Also carbon dioxide emissions would be halved by 2030, relative to today’s levels (Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 2015).

The circular economy has been prominent in China for many years (Su, Heshmati, Geng & Yu, 2013) and the China Association of Circular Economy has reported an annual growth of 15% from 2006-2010 (Chapman & Chalaris, 2019). Concurrently European policy is firmly on track to accelerate the move to a circular economy over the next 5 years.

The question is are we ready for it?

Technologically circularity is possible in many sectors but evidence indicates that customers are slow to switch to more sustainable consumption models.  This leaves companies in a tight spot. How do you continue to serve existing customers and transition to a circular business model, while safeguarding jobs and profit?

The answer is preparation. Conditions for circular businesses in Ireland aren’t quite where they need to be just yet, but they will be soon. When that happens companies that have invested time in developing a roadmap for the transition will flourish, while others will struggle to catch up.

Some companies are already well positioned to take advantage of the circular economy. You can learn more about them on this Knowledge Hub by Circle Lab.

If you would like to safeguard your businesses future take a look at our Services Page.

Get relevant practical circular design news