More often than not the concept or application of what is called”Circular Economy” is treated as an entirely new toolbox or approach, that is to say somehow historyless,. Like Athena, at birth springing full formed from the head of Zeus. This is of course far from the case.
The goal of the above quickly fashioned mosaic is to serve as an explicit reminder — an incomplete reminder to be sure— of some of the great men and great thinking that came before, with this listing taking us up to the beginning of this still-new century,. (Surely I have missed here some of the important figures, who to my mind constitute the Founding Fathers of Circular Economy. So please do not be shy and share your thoughts on this with us.)
Introductory summary and selected excerpts from a key read by Vincent Moreau, Marlyne Sahakian, Pascal van Griethuysen, and François Vuille, appearing in the Journal of Industrial Ecology dated 28 April 2017. We can strongly recommend the full contents of the Special Issue of that date: “Exploring the Circular Economy”.
In light of the environmental consequences of linear production and consumption processes, the circular economy (CE) is gaining momentum as a concept and practice, promoting closed material cycles by focusing on multiple strategies from material recycling to product reuse, as well as rethinking production and consumption chains toward increased resource efficiency.
Yet, by considering mainly cost-effective opportunities within the realm of economic competitiveness, it stops short of grappling with the institutional and social predispositions necessary for societal transitions to a CE.
Although the entropy law remains intransigent, institutional conditions and societal values can be challenged and transformed through political processes, in order to usher in a more equitable and circular economy.
– Bibliography compiled by Dr David Ness, School of Natural and Built Environments 13 July 2017
The modern view of a circular economy differs from the past. It has started in the second half of the 20th Century and is a case for the simultaneous and uncorrelated emergence of an idea
The LDnet has compiled a very useful Bibliography on Circular Economy and Local Development at https://ldnet.eu/circular-economy-and-local-development/. It identifies 45 carefully selected references and in each case with the corresponding URL reference. Very helpful.
But they are far from the only ones that treat our topic, as you will see if you pop — “circular economy” bibliography — into Google, which reports more than 130,000 eventual references. (Ouch!)
– Freek van Eijk, Managing Director Acceleratio, March 2015
Barriers & Drivers towards a New Circular Economy: Literature Review
The transition to a circular economy requires a systemic approach which makes use of a wide toolkit of policies and measures, across different points of value changes and affecting the full set of private and public stakeholders.
The circular economy is rapidly rising up political and business agendas. In contrast to today’s largely linear, ‘take-make-use-dispose’ economy, a circular economy aims to decouple economic growth from the use of natural resources and ecosystems by using those resources more effectively. By definition it is a driver for innovation in the areas of material-, component- and product reuse, as well as new business models such as solutions and services. In a circular economy, the more effective use of materials enables to create more value, both by cost savings and by developing new markets or growing existing ones.
Missing Points in the Development Dialogue
Degrowth, steady state economics and the circular economy: three distinct yet increasingly converging alternative discourses to economic growth for achieving environmental sustainability and social equity
- By George-Konstantinos Charonis. Presented to the World Economics Association conference of October 2012. Full paper HERE.
Criticisms of the neoclassical economic framework and perpetual growth in GDP terms are not a new phenomenon, although recent years have seen increasing interest in alternative and ecological discourses including degrowth, steady state and circular economics. Although these may initially appear as distinctly different discourses, they are highly compatible and comparable, sharing similar, often nearly identical principles and policy proposals. A more collaborative, joined-up approach aimed at integrating alternative discourses is required in order to build a coherent, credible, well-supported alternative, as there is more uniting than dividing these critical voices, particularly in the face of mainstream political and economic debates that are shaped by neoclassical economics.
Business leaders and governments alike are acknowledging that continued long-term value creation requires a new economic model that is less dependent on cheap, easily accessible materials and energy, and that is able to restore and regenerate natural capital. In its research to date, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation has demonstrated that the circular economy is a clear value creation opportunity. As many policymakers become interested in this promising model, they envisage the important role they can play in creating the right enabling conditions and, as appropriate, setting direction to unlock it.