Today’s linear ‘take, make, dispose’ economic model, which relies on large quantities of cheap, easily accessible materials and energy, has been at the heart of industrial development and has generated an unprecedented level of growth.
Yet increased price volatility, supply chain risks, and growing pressures on resources have alerted business leaders and policy makers to the necessity of rethinking materials and energy use – the time is right, many argue, to take advantage of the potential benefits of a circular economy.
A circular economy is one that is restorative and regenerative by design and aims to keep products, components, and materials at their highest utility and value at all times, distinguishing between technical and biological cycles. This new economic model seeks to ultimately decouple global economic development from finite resource consumption.
A circular economy addresses mounting resource-related challenges for business and economies, and could generate growth, create jobs, and reduce environmental impacts, including carbon emissions. As the call for a new economic model based on systems-thinking grows louder, an unprecedented favourable alignment of technological and social factors today can enable the transition to a circular economy.
This document is an executive summary of the analysis that the Ellen MacArthur Foundation has conducted to date.