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Many of us have already heard about the concept of a circular economy, an economic model that aims to optimize and recycle resources throughout their lifecycle. First and foremost, let’s talk about the circular economy and how it differs from the traditional linear economy. When you think of the most common modes of waste disposal, you probably think of landfills, in which items are buried at the end of their lifecycles, or recycling centers, where items are broken down into raw materials in order to be used again in future manufacturing processes.

History

The term circular economy was first coined in the 1970s by German industrial designer Gunter Pauli. The concept gained traction in the 1990s with the publication of Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, a book by German chemist Michael Braungart and American architect William McDonough. In recent years, the circular economy has gained even more momentum as a way to address environmental challenges like climate change, resource depletion, and waste accumulation.

Current Discussions & Progress

The circular economy is a hot topic right now, with businesses, governments, and individuals looking for ways to move away from the traditional linear take-make-waste model. In order to make this shift, we need to change the way we think about the things we use and consume, including energy. For example, many plastics are used only once or twice before being thrown away. But what if they were made so that they could be recycled infinitely? A startup called ReCell has developed technology that breaks down plastics into their original ingredients, which can then be reformed into new products instead of simply adding them to our landfills or ocean trash piles.

Problem Statement

The linear economy we have today is based on a take, make, waste model. We take resources from the earth, make products out of them, and then throw those products away when we’re done with them. This model is not sustainable; eventually, we will run out of resources, and all that waste will pollute our planet. We need to create more circular economies, where we take responsibility for the things we use and share them to reduce waste. For example, every time you go clothes shopping, instead of throwing your old clothes in the trash, you can donate or resell them so they can be used again by someone else who needs them (NFTs can be used as incentives).

Key Principles of the Circular Economy

The circular economy is an alternative to the traditional linear economy, in which we make, use, and dispose of products. In a circular economy, waste is designed out of the system, and products are made to be reused, repaired, or recycled. The goal is to eliminate waste and pollution while providing people with the necessary things. The transition to a circular economy will require changes on both the supply side (businesses) and demand side (consumers). We encourage everyone reading this post to think about how you can live more sustainably by reducing your environmental footprint.

Solutions

The circular economy is a new way of thinking about the economy, in which we design products and systems to be reused, repaired, or recycled instead of being thrown away. This shift could help reduce pollution, conserve resources, and create jobs. To transition to a circular economy, we need to rethink how we design products, use them, and dispose of them. We also need to support businesses that are already making the switch. For example, Adidas recently unveiled plans for its first closed-loop shoe factory. The plant will reuse all shoe parts (leather, rubber) so nothing is wasted. If you want to learn more about this idea, you can check out these TED Talks on the future of recycling and the circular economy. You can also find detailed info on how the industry has changed over time by reading our timeline below. And lastly, if you’re interested in getting involved with product design and development as an undergraduate student, apply to any of our 10+ majors!

Final Thoughts

The circular economy is an important concept that will help to sustain our planet and its resources. By understanding how it works, we can all do our part to help make it a reality. What are your thoughts on the future of the circular economy? Leave a comment below! 

We want to hear from you! Let us know what you think about what you’ve read today in our post The Future of the Circular Economy and be sure to share it with your friends on social media.


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