Creating value
Creating value
Benefits of a circular economy in South Australia

Circular Economy defined

A circular economy keeps more value in products, components and materials and decouples growth from the consumption of finite resources by:

  • designing out waste: designing goods to last longer and to be easily repaired, upgraded or used differently in future cycles, and actively managing negative externalities such as the release of toxic substances
  • keeping materials in use: sharing and reusing products, refurbishing and remanufacturing components, to preserve their useful function and the embodied energy used to make them, then returning materials to the economy through efficient recycling processes; cascading them into different, increasingly low-grade applications
  • preserving and rebuilding natural capital: using less resources and opting for renewable or better-performing resources where possible, and enhancing natural capital by encouraging flows of nutrients within the system and creating the conditions for regeneration of, for example, soil.

In this alternative to a traditional linear economy (make > use > dispose), the maximum value is extracted from resources in use, then products and materials are recovered and regenerated at the end of each service life.

 

Circular economy systems diagram, adapted from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

Click to enlarge image.