Circular Economy

Circular Economy is the sustainable usage and allocation of scarce resources to satisfy unlimited human needs while maximizing efficiency and minimizing waste. Opposed to the “Take-Make-Dispose” model, it promotes the so-called 4Rs model “Reuse-Reduce-Recycle-Repair”.
Circular Economy was a theory developed with the outbreak of systems thinking in scientific studies, during the last decades of the twentieth century. The concept of “feedback loop”- whatever phenomenon that produces an output that becomes its own new input- influenced heavily circular thinkers. There are multiple formulas to summarize the features of a circular economy: “Cradle to Cradle”, “Reuse-Reduce-Recycle-Repair” and so on. The common basis is that what we now conceive as waste contains a set of unused resources that on one hand might be useful to somebody else, and on the other might cause unnecessary pollution.

Basically what happens is that once the product has ended its, say, “usable” life, it is not thrown away but it is repaired, or its materials are extracted and recycled, or it might be used for a different task (plastic bottles can be great to grow plants!).  

As you may guess the whole waste recycling production chain is part included in circular economy, but, as strange as it might sound, mechanics and machinery fixers are also part of the circular model. Among others leasing services and secondhand products are included in circular economy as they contribute respectively to increase the usage of an asset or to exploit the maximum potential of a product.

The most famous and successful example of a circular approach is probably Patagonia customer service that offers exchange, return and repair services so that no product is ever wasted and the duration of a single jacket is maximized.