Last edited 30 Jun 2021

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KLH Sustainability Other Consultant Website

Circular economy

A circular economy is based on the principles of designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use, and regenerating natural systems. (ref Ellen MacArthur Foundation)

This is in contrast to the traditional 'linear' model which is based on the concept of 'make, break, and discard' or 'take, make waste'.

The circular economy is a concept in which everything is engineered to be constantly reused or recycled. It requires rethinking of design, manufacturing, selling, re-using, recycling and consumer ownership to keep resources in use for as long as possible and to extract maximum value.

'Business as usual' sees contractors and the supply chain following the waste hierarchy; reduce, reuse and recycle, to a greater or lesser extent. But the concept of the circular economy goes beyond the 3 R's and aims to maximise total material resource efficiency.

There is massive economic advantage for businesses adopting a circular economy. The UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) calculates profit of up to £23 billion per year for UK businesses through low cost or no cost improvements and McKinsey estimates a global value of $3.7 trillion per year (ref. WRAP).

This article was originally created by Ritu Rajashekar of --KLH Sustainability as part of an ongoing series of posts for Designing Buildings Wiki and has been updated by the CIRCuIT project

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