The concept of the circular economy has been around for some time, but is most promoted and embodied by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.
The circular economy has been gaining traction with business and government leaders alike. Their imagination is captured by the opportunity to gradually decouple economic growth from virgin resource inputs, encourage innovation, increase growth, and create more robust employment. If we transition to a circular economy, the impact will be felt across society.
When starting up your own business, designing for these circular principles can be a strategic advantage that significantly add to profit margins.
The circular economy is a revolutionary change proposed to shift our current linear, take-make-use-waste economy, and turn the circle to keep nutrients in the cycle for as long as possible, with the lowest energy transfer.
By not having waste in the system and also not having to go through the cost of waste management, we can significantly streamline manufacturing and add to brand equity with consumers.
How it works
It is based on three principles:
Design out waste and pollution
Keep products and materials in use
Regenerate natural systems
From the design phase we shift our application from product life to next use resulting in always being a next use, as you would see in nature.
The circular economy separates two material flows concepts, one being biological material which can be grown, used and broken down into useful material once more - you know that whole 5-year old lifecycle diagram we all learned in school.
The other concept is for non-biological materials, and doing two key things differently.
One is designing for compartmentalisation allowing for parts replacement to be seamless reducing both the energy required to change and also reproduce the component parts. In addition to this, designing the materials to be able to be reprocessed or for the design to allow for an end of use alternative functionality.
The whole point is that we live on a planet that has a growing population with finite resources. If we consume linearly we will not have these finite resources anymore. So we need to change our economic model to become stewards of what we have and make it better and easier to share in that use.
For additional marketing prowess consider going after stamps of approval such as the cradle to cradle or BCorp certifications.
For more information and live events check out the Ellen MacArthur Foundation website, where you can also see all of the CE100 partners