CITIES
Menu

What is the circular economy?

To transition to a circular economy, everyone involved needs to understand what a circular economy is. Learn about this economic system where waste is designed out.

The problems of the linear economy

The economy that currently prevails worldwide is linear.

It takes resources, makes goods and quickly wastes them. This take-make-waste pattern is characterised by high levels of raw material extraction, production, consumption and waste. This is polluting and wasteful, and is causing greenhouse gas emissions to spiral upwards.

linear-snail

The linear economy is increasing many risks, such as:

resource-depletion

Resource depletion

temperature-rise

Global temperature rise

market-volatility

Market volatility

snail-chain

The circular economy is a solution

The circular economy is an economic system where waste is designed out, everything is used at its highest possible value for as long as possible and natural systems are regenerated.

Contrary to linearity, in a circular system, resources are used to their fullest potential, and are continuously reused, refurbished and recycled: ideally, there is no more waste.

The circular economy can:

green-house

Reduce greenhouse gas emissions

land-filling

Save on landfilling costs

improve-material

Improve material security

livelihood

Create new livelihood opportunities

spur-local

Spur local value creation

The key elements of the circular economy

In an effort to shape a common language for the circular economy, Circle Economy does continuous research on the terms and definitions used in practice and in the literature.

Circle Economy has mapped the various terms and definitions used by over 20 organisations—NGOs, government agencies, academia, consultancies and more—and has conducted an in-depth literature review. After interpreting this research, eight key elements emerged that defined the majority of terms linked to the circular economy.

element-circle

CORE ELEMENTS

Activities that directly handle product or material flows.

ENABLING ELEMENTS

Activities that remove obstacles for core activities.

camy

Learn about the circular economy through a game!

Challenge linearity and adopt the basics of circularity through games. Play the ‘Introduction to the circular economy’ track from Circularity Academy!

Or click 'play now' to play on this device
up next
What is a circular city?

Cities play a critical role in fighting climate change and environmental challenges. Learn how cities can use the circular economy to meet their sustainability targets.

GANBATTE
BETA

Ganbatte helps you explore data-driven insights, solutions, tools and practical examples of the circular economy that can help your city achieve its climate and sustainability goals.

  • Contact us
  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms & Conditions
  • Cookie policy

© 2022 Circle Economy Foundation. All rights reserved.