Circular economy: definition, importance and benefits (Source: European Parliament)
The circular economy: find out what it means, how it benefits you, the environment and our economy.
The European Union produces more than 2.2 billion tonnes of waste every year. It is currently updating its legislation on waste management to promote a shift to a more sustainable model known as the circular economy.
But what exactly does the circular economy mean? And what would be the benefits?
What is the circular economy?
The circular economy is a model of production and consumption, which involves sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing and recycling existing materials and products as long as possible. In this way, the life cycle of products is extended.
In practice, it implies reducing waste to a minimum. When a product reaches the end of its life, its materials are kept within the economy wherever possible thanks to recycling. These can be productively used again and again, thereby creating further value.
This is a departure from the traditional, linear economic model, which is based on a take-make-consume-throw away pattern. This model relies on large quantities of cheap, easily accessible materials and energy.
Also part of this model is planned obsolescence, when a product has been designed to have a limited lifespan to encourage consumers to buy it again. The European Parliament has called for measures to tackle this practice.