The Real Circularity Coalition is campaigning to accelerate the globe’s transition from linear and semi-circular systems to a real circular economy. We believe passionately this transition is vital if mankind is to meet the key environmental challenges facing the world in the 2020s and beyond.
A linear economy
For decades societies across the world have operated as linear economies. This is where products are made and consumed within a take-make-dispose model. Raw materials are extracted and made into products to be sold to consumers.
These products are then used by consumers until they become waste. The end of life for this waste is typically outside the productive economy and within the natural environment. This end of life is typically in landfills, un-managed rubbish dumps or the ocean.
A semi-circular economy
Across the world the 21st century has seen societies transition from a linear economy to a system characterised by semi-circularity.
In a semi-circular economy some products are recycled and re-used, but many eventually end up in the landfill and the ocean. This is because of a combination of inadequate recycling collection and processing systems and the widespread use of materials that can only be recycled a handful of times before they become unrecyclable.
According to the World Bank the global semi-circular economy recycles less than 15 percent of the waste it produces. As a result it sends 744 million tonnes of waste to rot in landfill each year. Millions of tonnes end up in the environment harming some of the world’s most precious flora and fauna.
A real circular economy
A real circular economy is one where the design, production, and consumption of goods and services work in harmony with nature rather than against it.
Real circularity will only be achieved where all products are designed to be 100 percent recyclable or reusable forever. This, in tandem with the provision of world-class waste collection and processing infrastructure, will ensure products and materials are kept in the economy forever, not just a few times.
Longevity is at the heart of the real circular economy, with products built to remain useful for decades ahead. This is the very antithesis of the throwaway economy that has been the main driver of the nature crisis.
A real circular economy is an experiential economy where resources are shared, not necessarily owned. It is one which uses resources as efficiently as possible.