Circular economy is an efficient alternative to the dominant linear economic model, that is, produce-consume-discard model which requires a large amount of input and produces great deal of useless waste. Linear economic model is not a sustainable solution, it cannot ensure the well-being of the humankind and the environment, and does not meet the long-term needs of the modern society. The natural resources of the Earth are limited, which is why it is important to find a sustainable way of using them from the point of view of the environment and economic development.
The aim of circular economy is to untie economic growth from the use of primary raw materials by creating a circular system of manufacturing and consumption with as little losses as possible. Resources need to be managed effectively throughout their life cycle, starting from manufacturing and consumption and ending with waste management and recovery, creating more value from the existing resources while producing less waste. In addition to minimizing environmental impact, efficient implementation of circular economy principles enables to reduce costs, increase growth potential and improve their reputation. That is exactly why it is important to achieve sustainable economic growth and switch to resource efficient circular economy in which the main focus is on
- and recycling of the existing materials and products.
Transitioning to a circular economy requires changes in the entire value chain of products, from design and new business models to consumption habits. With new and existing products, the main focus lies in the design of the entire life cycle, concentrating on sustainable choice of materials, quality (long life of products, easily repairable), optimisation of the value chain, and reuse and recycling (universality, modular parts etc). In addition to clever design solutions, eco-innovation and technological developments play a role in redirecting economic growth to become more sustainable.
Circular economy is a cross-sectoral principle, which is why cooperation between companies and international agreements take an important place and create significant opportunities for creating new markets and partnerships. Successful cooperation between companies is well characterised by industrial symbiosis with an aim of achieving a closed production cycle in which the waste, residual heat or other by-products of one company are used by another.
Big changes also need to be made in the way products and services are consumed. Everyday choices of millions of consumers have a significant impact on the environment. Raising awareness and creating more demand for sustainable products on the market supports the development of a circular economy.
The state’s role in transitioning to a circular economy is to create favourable conditions to implement circular economy solutions and to remove any existing barriers.
Circular economy is a great way of turning environmental challenges into economic opportunities that benefit the environment, consumers, enterprises, and the state.