Re-Think Circular Economy!

Circular Economy Research is a platform with more than 100 years of combined experience.

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– Circular Economy is happening since ever –

We are now adapting it to the 21st. century!

Since millions of years nature is practicing ‚circularity‘. Waste that is generated by organisms is used by others and consequently fed back into the ‚lifecycle ‘.

The ‘Circular Economy also was a common practice of the early human society. Materials were, at the end of the useful life of the products they were made out off, used in the production of new products.  With the economic growth and the increase of the income starting in the 1950’s, the recycling as a source of raw materials started to decrease as it has been more expensive then extracting virgin materials. For this reason and because it was more convenient, society moved towards the ‘ex and hop’ consumption and secondary materials have lost their importance in many (industrialized) countries.

Since then, the ‚Linear Economy‘, where products are manufactured, consumed and discarded, has been implemented in many regions creating millions of tons of waste every year. This ‚Linear Economy‘  causes huge problems due to:

  • Improper waste treatment which results in pollution and health impacts
  • Wasting the world’s raw materials and energy resources

and therefore, accelerates the negative impacts of manufacturing and consumption on the globe’s environment.

Since many years, environmentalists have called to ‘close the loop’: To move back from a ‘Linear Economy’ towards a Circular Economy’, which means to recover materials from products at the end of it’s use-time and to reuse materials in the  manufacturing of new products. During the past decades, this  version of ‘Circular Economy’ has already saved millions of tons of raw material from being buried in landfills – and used them in the production of new items instead.

But Circular Economy is more than just recycling materials.
Circular Economy should include, besides recycling products at the end of their lifetime also the extension of the product’s use-time.

Using products as long as possible will not only reduce the pollution cause by the production of new products but will also minimize the End of Life waste.

Providing products which are designed for longer usage times, easy repair, effective refurbishment & remanufacturing are essential processes for extending the time the product is used.

There have been many research projects investigating the technological and logistical conditions for extending the use-time of products.

“ The circular model incentivises the remanufacturing of goods to recover intrinsic product value, aiming at minimizing new consumption of new raw materials.” 
 

Aurich, J. C., Fuchs, C., & Wagenknecht, C. (2006). Life cycle oriented design of technical Product-Service Systems. Journal of Cleaner Production, 14(17), 1480-1494.

Research in how customers and the industry can be motivated to transform our society and its major stakeholders has not been a major focus yet, especially on the economic drivers which are major elements for all stakeholders to change behavior and economic models.