What goes around must come around
Traditionally, we live in a linear economy. Products are made, used, and then discarded, only for the process to be repeated all over again. As economists and environmentalists alike push for a sustainable future, a promising alternative to linear has emerged. Instead of throwing away used resources, the concept of a circular economy maximises the potential of products by recycling, refurbishing and reusing them. This encompasses a move away from fossil fuels towards the adoption of clean energy.
The term is not a particularly new one, and was first discussed in a book called ‘Economics of Natural Resources and the Environment’ published in 1989. Aided by the rise of renewable energy solutions and discoveries in Materials Science, the circular economy is viewed by many as a necessary replacement for existing linear models. The city of Phoenix and Arizona State University are currently teaming up to launch an incubator to encourage the expansion of circular economy values. The circular economy is already influencing the policies of governmental bodies like the EU, as well as the strategies of tech giants Google.
It’s easy to see why the idea is gaining traction. Firstly, it’s a concise response to fears over the lack of available materials and resources. It also makes the most out of existing products, therefore improving their value. This is economically beneficial for businesses, whilst at the same time as contributing to sustainability. However, numerous obstacles stand in the way of circular economy advancement. Many existing infrastructures are founded on linear principles, which means they are largely unsuited to recycling and reuse. The linear economy is an ingrained, global institution which will be challenging for businesses to abandon. Once companies and organisations become aware of the positives of circular initiatives, these issues will hopefully be resolved.