The latest buzz words in the market are 'circular economy'. Given the phenomenal rise of circular economy thinking in recent years, the waste hierarchy as it stands may no longer be a valid starting point for business.
'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.
The traditional 'linear' model preaches the concept of 'make, break, and discard'. 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.
There is massive economic advantage for businesses adopting a circular economy. The 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).
The Dutch are hot favourites in the race to becoming a circular economy and Japan has already shown a huge success in changing their linear manufacturing and consumption system into a more circular, collaborative system. The approach adopted by Japan is highly effective and contributes a significant proportion of the country's GDP, employing hundreds of thousands of people.
As the EU set new, challenging waste targets and reviews proposals to ban sending plastics, wood, textiles and food to landfill, the circular economy may be the answer to our resource and employment challenges.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- 5 things leaders can do to create a truly circular economy.
- Blockchains will change construction.
- Building Revolutions - review.
- Circular economy - transforming the worlds number one consumer of raw materials.
- Climate change act.
- Cradle to cradle product registry system.
- Design for deconstruction.
- End of life potential.
- Energy targets.
- EU Referendum - Environmental and climate change consequences for the built environment.
- Green supply chain management.
- Impact of the sharing economy on construction craft labour and equipment markets.
- Lean construction.
- Mean lean green.
- Recyclable construction materials.
- Renewable energy.
- Sustainable materials.
- UandI Think event with Studio SWINE.
- Waste management plan.
- Waste management plan for England.
Featured articles and news
CEOs and high-level executives explain who they expect to be the most successful players in the future of construction.
What are package contracts and how are they broken down? Find out in our introductory article.
Identifying sustainable shoreline protection solutions in the face of rising sea levels and storms in the US.
Budget documents state modern methods of construction will be favoured for public infrastructure schemes from 2019.
A walk-through exhibition of an emergency humanitarian shelter is officially opened at BRE's Innovation Park.
How to work safely on a construction site during winter.
Housing is the big winner in Chancellor Philip Hammond's Autumn Budget.
The winner of our BSRIA competition, Tomorrow's challenges in today's buildings, is.... Bob Hendrikx. A big thank you to everyone that took part.
Committee of MPs accuses government of dealing billpayers a 'bad hand' over the guaranteed power price.
In 1992, the Joint Fire Code was first published. What influence does it still have on construction sites today?
"Companies will have to adapt or go out of business" - how are virtual reality and big data disrupting digital construction?
International Well Building Institute and BRE collaborate on multiple levels to advance human health through better buildings.
"The industry has tried moving away from prescriptivism to focus on performance, but maybe that’s no longer working".