What is the circular economy?

Better systems for resource efficiency and security
What is the circular economy?
The UK economy is largely linear: we dig things out of the ground, turn them into products that last from between a few minutes to a few years at most, and then we stick them back into the ground as landfill. This waste of resources and money also harms the environment through extraction and disposal.

Whilst we can minimise the use of resources, raw materials are still needed to make products. We have promoted the concept of the circular economy to avoid environmental impact, reduce exposure to volatile and rising commodity prices and retain valuable materials in the system.
 
The circular economy captures and retains materials in the system, so today’s goods are remanufactured or reused to become tomorrow’s goods, rather than sent to landfill. We are looking at how to make it work, to understand how business models can be developed that keep companies profitable, and how policy can help to stimulate the changes needed.  

Our 2011 report, Reinventing the wheel: a circular economy for resource security, put the spotlight on metals, phosphorus and water as examples of how the linear economy, through extraction, production and disposal, is failing to protect and secure resources for the future. 

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