SIRC Newsletter Issue 1 2020 EN

Circular economy: a definition and most important aspects

A circular economy is an economic system aimed at eliminating waste and the continual use of resources. Circular systems employ reuse, sharing, repair, refurbishment, remanufacturing and recycling to create a close-loop system, minimising the use of resource inputs and the creation of waste, pollution and carbon emissions. A circular economy is based on the principles of designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use, and regenerating natural systems. A circular economy is an alternative to a traditional linear economy (make, use, dispose) in which we keep resources in use for as long as possible, extract the maximum value from them whilst in use, then recover and regenerate products and materials at the end of each service life. In contrast to what happens in a linear economy,

a circular economy makes optimal use of raw materials and resources. This means that these materials and resources continue to be applied in a way that generates the highest economic value and the least environmental damage. The conversion of a linear economy into one that is circular involves systems changes, or transition. Other designs or processes (e.g. 3D printing), products that can be repaired or regenerated, recycling of materials and another way of thinking about products (e.g. sharing them), are all aspects of such a change. The rule of thumb for determining the highest value reuse of resources within the cycle is to priori- tise strategies (Rethink, Redesign, Reuse, Repair, Remanufacturing, Recycling, Recover). However, there will always be exceptions. 8

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