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.
– 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.
As your professor of Sustainable Development, Economy and Democracy you would have thought that I might at least have sat you down at the beginning of the seminar and given you a clear understanding of that oft-repeated rarely-questioned phrase “sustainable development”.
This Nathalie Nomblot brought most embarrassingly to my attention yesterday when we were struggling to find a good topic for her Quick Report, which I had usefully (!) suggested she might write on “sustainable development” and “something else” (her choice). To which she energetically wrote back: “In one sentence, could you please give me your definition of Sustainable Development? That would help!”
To the Honourable Members of the Chamber of Deputies. Gentlemen:
You are on the right track. You reject abstract theories and have little regard for abundance and low prices. You concern yourselves mainly with the fate of the producer. You wish to free him from foreign competition, that is, to reserve the domestic market for domestic industry.
We come to offer you a wonderful opportunity for your — what shall we call it? Your theory? No, nothing is more deceptive than theory. Your doctrine? Your system? Your principle? But you dislike doctrines, you have a horror of systems, as for principles, you deny that there are any in political economy; therefore we shall call it your practice — your practice without theory and without principle.