Circular vs Linear Economy

The current industrial model is a linear one, in which materials are mined or felled and which invests in products used by consumers before being thrown away. This model is exhausting the planet and polluting our environment. It is also leading to a shortage of raw materials and therefore rising costs. However things can be different, in the form of a circular economy. Just as in nature, this type of economy produces no waste. Products are designed in such a way as to allow all the materials involved to be reused in new products of the same or higher quality. This is the type of economy we really need. The education sector can play a key role in the realisation of this.

circular vs linear economy: The way in which we meet our economic needs is plainly unsustainable, and materials are becoming increasingly scarce. For example in Germany alone copper to the value of some 45 million euros is wasted in incineration, simply because the products containing the copper have not been designed to enable reuse. What a missed economic opportunity! Of all the copper once available, about a quarter has already been lost forever.

And what about oil? It is pumped from the ground and then burnt. What an inefficient way to obtain energy, while energy can easily be obtained from infinite sources such as the sun and wind. The linear economy is also referred to as the ‘throwaway society’. There are now floating islands the size of France in the oceans, and recent studies even show that nowhere in any ocean is there an area without some trace of plastic. Is ‘thrown away’ really ‘gone away’?

Let us work towards a world where there is no waste at all and where items and components are manufactured in such a way that materials can be used again and again by future generations, without being harmful to the human race and the environment. The core problem is not the materials themselves but how we handle them.

To read more about Circular economy click: EMG as circular economy expert by Guardian

Article published in September 2014.