Going round in circles

People, governments and businesses are waking up to the fact that we can’t go on using so many resources, and the idea of a ‘circular economy’ is being touted as the answer. Libby Peake examines the concept a bit more closely

This article was taken from Issue 72

Without question, the buzzword in the waste and resources industry at the moment is ‘circular economy’. Everybody’s talking about it, singing its praises and declaring it is, undoubtedly, our future. But what would a circular economy actually look like? And, apart from all the talk, what is being done to bring it about? To be sure, the concept of a circular economy is not new, and many similar or complementary ideas have also been circulating (forgive the pun) for a long time – although they, evidently, do not capture the imagination as readily as the idea of circularity seems to. As SITA UK’s Gev Eduljee writes in the introduction to Green Alliance’s ‘Reinventing the Wheel’ report: ‘There are some strong conceptual models to underpin decision-making for sustainable development (zero waste, cradle to cradle, industrial ecology, responsible stewardship for example) but the imagery conjured by the “circular economy” is perhaps the most powerful and the most amenable to policy development.’