What is it about?

Parallel to the ongoing depletion of natural resources and the population growth that puts ever-growing pressure on the environment, the past decades have seen many promising developments. One of the key developments is the idea of a circular economy that stems from the cradle-to-cradle framework discussed in the previous chapter. The term circular economy relates to the role of natural diversity as a characteristic of resilient and productive systems and underscores the importance of the production process in which by-products are used as a resource for new products. This process is known as end-of-waste (EoW) criteria with environmental protection and public health, take-back requirements and extended producer responsibility as a starting point.

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Why is it important?

A circular economy refers to a continuous positive development cycle that preserves and enhances natural capital. In contrast to today’s largely linear or ‘cradle to grave’ economy, a circular economy aims to decouple economic growth from the use of natural resources by using those resources more effectively.


Ideally, a circular economy not only optimizes resource yields and minimizes production risks by managing finite stocks and renewable flows, but radically reforms the system of production from the onset. We note that this is an aspiration, which has yet to be demonstrated by corporate supporters.

Dr Helen Kopnina
Northumbria University

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This page is a summary of: Towards a circular economy, April 2018, Taylor & Francis, DOI: 10.4324/9781315110172-12.
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