The Circular Economy

Diagram: The circular economy. Source: European Parliament.

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Diagram: Wautelet, Thibaut. (2018). Exploring the role of independent retailers in the circular economy: a case study approach.

The circular economy is an economic model that is restorative and regenerative by design. The circular economy stems from the realisation that Earth is a finite system constrained by planetary boundaries. Ultimately in nature the concept of waste does not exist – everything is transformed into a resource that can be utilised.

The circular economy aims to keep materials, components, and products in-use in the economy for as long as possible. In circularity, the key objective is to design consumption and production systems to create and retain value.

Circularity seeks to optimise every aspect of a product’s lifecycle from raw material extraction to manufacturing and first use, and multiple use-lives thereafter, through product re-design, new business models and novel technologies and processes.

It is now widely recognised that the circular economy (CE) agenda is fundamentally intertwined with the zero-carbon agenda. Europe has committed to accelerating the transition to a circular economy – with circular principles central to the EU’s Industrial Strategy and EU Green Deal. In this context, as Ireland navigates the path to COVID-19 recovery, now is the opportunity to embed circularity in the Irish economy – creating substantial socio-economic, environmental, and business benefits.

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