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what is the circular economy?

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what is the circular economy?

Unread postby Graeme » Mon 24 Feb 2014, 17:58:13

Explainer: what is the circular economy?

When the who’s who of business and world leaders met at last month’s World Economic Forum in Davos a different industrial model was on the agenda: the circular economy.

It’s a term the average person may not have come across yet, but the idea has gained sufficient traction in business, political and environmental circles to be the subject of a report released at the Forum’s influential annual meeting and to be the focus of an initiative supported by leading companies to encourage business to embrace its principles.



Often, we are throwing away valuable resources in this “linear” model. Without change, this can only get worse as three billion new middle-class consumers enter the global market in the next 15 years.

The circular economy addresses these unnecessary resource losses.

How does it do that? More recycling is part of it but the circular economy involves much more. It is a model of industrial production which involves designing products so they last longer, so they can be repaired and upgraded, so they can be reused or resold (on eBay, for example), and so their materials can be used in remanufacture.

It is a more “restorative” process, where components and materials can be reused many times.

This will involve a shift on the part of businesses that are accustomed to generating ongoing revenue via planned or “inbuilt” obsolescence.

One example of the sort of switch that might be involved is for businesses to sell services instead of products – for example, selling “hours behind the wheel” rather than selling cars, which is what happens with car-share schemes such as GoGet, Hertz 24/7 and GreenShareCar.

This sort of change is starting to happen, but the report launched by the WEF and the Ellen McArthur Foundation at Davos last month considered a crucial issue: how to scale up the circular economy model.

Dominic Barton, Managing Director of McKinsey & Co, which collaborated on the report, spelled out the business case. The world economy is A$72 trillion in size but applying the circular economy model would lead to at least $1 trillion in savings immediately, he said, and potentially much more in years ahead.

These savings would flow from waste reduction and lower capital requirements for businesses. Other potential benefits include reduced volatility in the price of inputs, along with greater innovation and job creation.

Remanufacturing and recycling in Europe, for example, already employs more than one million people. There, companies such as Renault have found that while remanufacturing is more labour-intensive, reduced waste and lower capital expenses mean profits are maintained.


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Re: what is the circular economy?

Unread postby lasseter » Tue 25 Feb 2014, 06:16:43

Here in Australia we export vast amounts of grain and meat overseas. We also import large amounts of grain products and meat products from China who is one of our export markets. Why do we ship food to china and then ship it back? Because it profits large corporations to do so. Just as it profits large corporations to manufacture a toaster that last 3 years rather than one that lasts 20 years.

When a bunch of overpaid overfed economists meet for a week to shuffle papers, make a report, and then fly home, I place little interest it since I know the world's corporations will pay little interest in it. Instead I will spend that hour scouring eBay for a 1970's Honda 12Volt DC generator. Knowing that when I find one I will have a device that will last a lifetime, be free of microchips, and require little maintenance. I will stop at a garage sale, hunt out a 1 Gallon fuel can that is as old as the hills. I know from experience that the new ones rust out in a couple of years but that old one had real tin (Sn) in its metalurgy and will last for decades if looked after.

I believe in the circular economic model, I live it as much as I can because I hate Chinese imported food, cheap Chinese appliances and all the other crap that is common in every home today.
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Re: what is the circular economy?

Unread postby efarmer » Tue 25 Feb 2014, 10:28:17

Well at least they are tipping their hats at recognizing the embodied energy of manufactured goods.

Right now, the question is often:

"Would you like a new one, or a good one?"

There are limits of course, there are some things I demand to be new:

1. Underwear

2. Socks

3. Toothbrushes

4. Jokes (or at least reworked from 2 or more good old ones)

5. Big juicy insights on a global scale from all the folks who gather in Davos...

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Re: what is the circular economy?

Unread postby ralfy » Tue 25 Feb 2014, 11:48:13

With economic growth (i.e., given the need for profits and returns on investment), a linear economy remains.
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Re: what is the circular economy?

Unread postby AndyA » Tue 25 Feb 2014, 12:12:01

Adam Smith wrote:“People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.”
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Re: what is the circular economy?

Unread postby Scrub Puller » Tue 25 Feb 2014, 15:45:54

Yair . . . Lasseter. Those early Honda 12v gennys were compact and quiet but didn't last long. We had maybe a dozen of them on caravans in contracting camps.

Honda were pretty good though with warranty claims (even back then) but it all took time. We had to have some power and went back to auto electrician built units with utilizing automotive generators and conventional (I think) 5hp Honda engines.

The engines on the 12v units utilised tiny little spark plugs that I haven't seen for years.

The mini Honda engines (35cc/50cc) these days are very good and even running at 7000 revs I have one at work that has done over 2000 hours.

With a small compact alternator they would make up into a nice handy little battery charger.

Have you seen these, handiest bit of kit you can have in the ute . . . http://www.northerntool.com/shop/tools/ ... _200452220

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Re: what is the circular economy?

Unread postby lasseter » Sun 02 Mar 2014, 00:45:21

No, very cute SC. Amazing what they come up with now isn't it. I doubt I would have the useage to justify the price myself as I am just doing a setup on some acerage, a 40 foot donga to live in and a couple of shipping containers as storage and workshop.

I bought an 8500lb electric winch for about $300 a while back, huge current draw but I have an exide N200 200AH battery to run it with. Plus the generator when the load is on I guess. I figured I could lash it to a tree base and drag shipping containers around with it etc. My brother wants to try pulling a few dead gum trees over with it. Old dead ones full of white ants and sand. We will use a pully around another tree so it doesn't come down on the winch. Hope it works lol.

That's bad news about the little honda genny. I guess I will save it for jumpstarting applications. You can still buy the plugs and (points) on eBay for them I see. Hoping to never need any though as I don't plan to run it continuously. It seems unregulated too, pushed a battery right up to over 16 volts !!!
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Re: what is the circular economy?

Unread postby Graeme » Fri 14 Mar 2014, 17:00:14

From Waste to Jobs: Growing California's Economy through Recycling

Recycling is one of the most common of all environmental activities, and it’s also a great way to save natural resources. Recycling keeps useful materials out of landfills and incinerators, and using recovered materials to make new products and packages saves energy, water, and resources such as trees and metal ores.

Recycling reduces global warming pollution, too. A 2011 report prepared by the Tellus Institute, More Jobs, Less Pollution, found that if we can increase the national recycling rate to 75% by 2030, we would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 515 million metric tons carbon dioxide equivalent, which is equal to shutting down about 72 coal-fired power plants or taking 50 million cars off the road.

And recycling helps the economy as well as the environment – recycling is more labor-intensive than landfilling or incineration, which means that building the recycling industry is a way to create more jobs. The 2011 Tellus report found that moving from the current 34% national recycling rate to a 75% national recycling rate would create 1.5 million new jobs.

California is already a national recycling leader, with a 2010 recycling rate of just under 50%. Yet California still sends half of our solid waste to landfills or incinerators, missing the opportunity to recover valuable material resources. In 2011, California Governor Jerry Brown signed AB341, which requires that “75 percent of solid waste generated be source reduced, recycled, or composted by the year 2020.” In order to better understand the economic potential of increasing recycling in California to 75%, NRDC commissioned the Tellus Institute to create a report, From Waste to Jobs: What Achieving 75 Percent Recycling Means for California, which was released today.

The NRDC report finds that more than 110,000 jobs could be created as a result of California’s goal to recycle 75% of its solid waste by 2020. Meeting the 75% recycling goal would create more than 34,000 jobs in materials collection, 26,000 jobs in materials processing, and 56,000 jobs in manufacturing using the recovered materials. And in addition to the 110,000 jobs directly created, there would be an additional 38,600 indirect jobs created in sectors providing equipment and services to recycling-related businesses as well as induced jobs from additional spending by the new employees.


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Re: what is the circular economy?

Unread postby Graeme » Fri 09 May 2014, 18:23:31

Call for EU to follow ten steps to implement circular economy

A group of leading non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have issued a joint statement calling for the European Union (EU) to implement ten steps that will help Europe work towards a circular economy.

The statement is called 'Bring waste full circle: How to implement the circular economy' and it is signed by the European Environmental Bureau, Seats at Risk, Zero Waste Europe, Rreuse, Greenpeace, Ecos, the Surfrider Foundation Europe and Friends of the Earth Europe.

The joint statement calls for a 70% recycling target for municipal waste across Europe, introducing binding waste prevention targets including for food waste, banning landfilling and incineration by 2020 for all recyclable and compostable waste, and promoting producer responsibility and resource taxation schemes.


The ten steps are the following:
1.Set a binding EU material reduction target based on the Total Material Consumption indicator
2.Set a zero residual waste target (the waste that is not reused or recycled) by 2025
3.Introduce binding waste prevention targets for municipal, commercial and industrial waste at the European and national levels
4.Set preparation for reuse targets for municipal solid waste and packaging, with targets for - at a minimum - textiles and furniture, based on the weight of material per capita put back on the market by approved reuse centres. The targets must not be combined with recycling
5.Increase recycling targets to at least 70% of municipal solid waste, using only one harmonised methodology for all Member States to report on, based on the recycling output. Set an overall packaging recycling target at 80% and boost plastic packaging recycling to at least 75%
6.Set a binding quantitative marine litter reduction target of 50% with an explicit definition of litter included in waste legislation, in recognition of the serious negative impacts on the marine environment
7.Introduce obligatory separate collection of waste by 2020, in particular for biowaste from homes and the hospitality sector as well as separate collection for materials including paper, cardboard, metals and textiles
8.Promote economic instruments that support the full implementation of the waste hierarchy, such as extended producer responsibility, pay-as-you-throw schemes and the taxation of resources where appropriate
9.Design out single-use, non-recyclable products and toxic materials such as microplastics and oxo-fragementable plastics
10.Ban landfill and incineration by 2020 for all recyclable and compostable waste. Ban the financing of incinerators and landfills via structural and cohesion funds.


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Re: what is the circular economy?

Unread postby Graeme » Wed 04 Jun 2014, 18:05:20

Scientists vindicate 'Limits to Growth' – urge investment in 'circular economy'

According to a new peer-reviewed scientific report, industrial civilisation is likely to deplete its low-cost mineral resources within the next century, with debilitating impacts for the global economy and key infrastructures within the coming decade.

The study, the 33rd report to the Club of Rome, is authored by Prof Ugo Bardi of the University of Florence's Earth Sciences Department, and includes contributions from a wide range of senior scientists across relevant disciplines.

The Club of Rome is a Swiss-based global think tank consisting of current and former heads of state, UN bureaucrats, government officials, diplomats, scientists, economists and business leaders.



A fundamental reorganisation of the way societies produce, manage and consume resources could support a new high-technology civilisation, but this would entail a new "circular economy" premised on wide-scale practices of recycling across production and consumption chains, a wholesale shift to renewable energy, application of agro-ecological methods to food production, and with all that, very different types of social structures.


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Re: what is the circular economy?

Unread postby Graeme » Sun 29 Jun 2014, 20:46:35

A call for a 'circular economy' to preserve resources for the future

By 2050, there will be 9 billion people on our planet and it's expected that we'll need three times more resources than we currently use. At the moment, 80 % of what we use is used once and then discarded. It's clear that we need an alternative to our current 'extract - use - throw away' model.

EU Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik says that the answer is to move towards a 'circular economy' where nothing is wasted and all resources are continuously mined back into a virtuous circle. However, adapting to this new model undoubtedly requires a mammoth shift in mentality, posing a large challenge to legislators, financial institutions, researchers and businesses in particular.

The Commissioner's call for a circular economy that will 'save resources and create jobs' echoed throughout the Green Week conference in Brussels earlier this month. The concept is based on the re-use, repair, refurbishment or recycling of existing materials and products, and ensuring that all resources are managed more efficiently throughout their life cycle. Essentially, anything traditionally regarded as 'waste' can be turned into a resource.

It all makes good sense but this new order requires a sea change in attitudes and an intense push forward in terms of innovation. 'The circular economy will be the great innovation challenge of the next decades,' the Commissioner admitted. He also warned, 'Those who survive will be those who invested and are ready to compete in a resource-constrained world.'


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Re: what is the circular economy?

Unread postby Pops » Mon 30 Jun 2014, 07:49:38

To stick with my current hobby horse,

The boom in light tight oil is going to make recycling even more prohibitively expensive. If LTO rolls out to other countries as promised, there will be a worldwide glut of the light oil that ethylene and propylene (plastics) are made from, cheap throw away chachkas will be even cheaper.
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Re: what is the circular economy?

Unread postby basil_hayden » Mon 30 Jun 2014, 08:32:58

Pops wrote:To stick with my current hobby horse,

The boom in light tight oil is going to make recycling even more prohibitively expensive. If LTO rolls out to other countries as promised, there will be a worldwide glut of the light oil that ethylene and propylene (plastics) are made from, cheap throw away chachkas will be even cheaper.


We'll need a lot of metal to get to that cheap carbon...so metal recycling will continue to be profitable; i.e., scrappers ill continue ripping grounding wires from utility poles.

What is the circular economy? That's where you spin your wheels for a lifetime and get nowhere.
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Re: what is the circular economy?

Unread postby Ibon » Mon 30 Jun 2014, 09:01:33

basil_hayden wrote:
What is the circular economy? That's where you spin your wheels for a lifetime and get nowhere.


It is because we are conditioned to believe that we have somewhere to go that we have the problem we have.
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Re: what is the circular economy?

Unread postby Pops » Mon 30 Jun 2014, 09:13:29

basil_hayden wrote:What is the circular economy? That's where you spin your wheels for a lifetime and get nowhere.

I think the current dreaming about a circular, sharing economy is exactly like hobby farming and $100k/yr "homesteaders" - just more fossil fueled dreaming.
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Re: what is the circular economy?

Unread postby americandream » Mon 30 Jun 2014, 16:26:34

Capitalism cannot be rendered circular in any way or form. Shifting the emphasis to second tier consumption (indirect ownership) does not eliminate the demand for the primary commodity where the context remains accumulation of value. It merely masks that ownership.

Only a needs based modernity carries the promise of sustainable circularity...and even there we will have to work on the technological efficiencies of our machines.
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Re: what is the circular economy?

Unread postby Graeme » Wed 02 Jul 2014, 16:55:09

Nevertheless, the world is shifting toward 100% recycling or circular economy.

The circular economy's trillion-dollar opportunity

The global middle class is projected to grow to nearly 5 billion people by 2030 and almost two thirds of this new middle class will be in Asia. The growing populations populationand disposable incomes across the region are expected to increase demand for consumer goods such as cars and electronics, amongst others.

Against this backdrop, experts say that the traditional “take-make-dispose” economic models, where manufacturing, consuming and disposing goods are a linear process, are becoming increasingly unviable. For example, the World Economic Forum estimates that 80 per cent of the US$ 3.2 trillion value of the global consumer goods sector is lost irrecoverably each year due to this wasteful model.

The idea of a ‘circular economy’ is rapidly gaining ground as a promising alternative for businesses to reconcile their need for growth with pressing resource constraints and environmental objectives.

The concept refers to initiatives to restructure manufacturing and product design in a way that the materials used are returned to the value chains, product lifespans are extended through repair and refurbishment, and consumption is reframed in terms of temporary services rather than permanent ownership.

Circular economy thinking is already being widely adopted by business leaders, and proving to be a profitable business approach. For example, a recent study by UN Global Compact and management consulting firm Accenture found that 43 per cent of automotive industry chief executives polled were already looking into the circular economy as a source of competitive advantage. The firm also estimates that circular economy approaches can add as much as US$6 trillion in to global economic growth by 2030.


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Environment: Higher recycling targets to drive transition to a Circular Economy with new jobs and sustainable growth

Today the Commission adopted proposals to turn Europe into a more circular economy and boost recycling in the Member States. Achieving the new waste targets would create 580 000 new jobs compared to today's performance, while making Europe more competitive and reducing demand for costly scarce resources. The proposals also mean lower environmental impacts and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. The plans ask Europeans to recycle 70 % of municipal waste and 80 % of packaging waste by 2030, and ban burying recyclable waste in landfill as of 2025. A target is also included for reducing marine litter along with food waste reduction objectives.

The review to strengthen waste targets in existing directives is put in the context of an ambitious drive towards fundamental transition from a linear to a more circular economy. Instead of extracting raw materials, using them once and throwing them away, the new vision is for a different economic model. In a circular economy, re-use, repair and recycling become the norm, and waste is a thing of the past. Keeping materials in productive use for longer, reusing them, and with improved efficiency would also improve EU competitiveness on the global stage. This approach is set out in a Communication which explains how innovation in markets for recycled materials, new business models, eco-design and industrial symbiosis can move us towards a zero-waste economy and society.

Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik said: "We are living with linear economic systems inherited from the 19th Century in the 21st Century world of emerging economies, millions of new middle class consumers, and inter-connected markets. If we want to compete we have to get the most out of our resources, and that means recycling them back into productive use, not burying them in landfills as waste. Moving to a circular economy is not only possible, it is profitable, but that does not mean it will happen without the right policies. The 2030 targets that we propose are about taking action today to accelerate the transition to a circular economy and exploiting the business and job opportunities it offers."

European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Máire Geoghegan-Quinn said: "Research and innovation are the keys to success for the Circular Economy, which is why we are proposing a joined-up approach today. Alongside a supportive regulatory framework, our new Horizon 2020 programme will contribute the know-how necessary to shape a resource-efficient, green and competitive low-carbon economy in the EU."


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Re: what is the circular economy?

Unread postby americandream » Thu 03 Jul 2014, 01:14:13

Absolutely impossible. You can recycle paper and bottles and ride on organically based hand woven cushions all day and every day, the compulsion for greater annual returns will ensure that these are largely symbolic.

Open yer eyes, dude and take a look at financial reality, not what you would like.
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Re: what is the circular economy?

Unread postby Graeme » Mon 07 Jul 2014, 18:23:54

The Circular Economy is (Slowly) Coming to Europe

Despite the increase in recycling programs, new technologies turning trash into energy, growing consumer awareness about electronic waste and more efforts made to compost, trash is still a mounting problem. This is particularly true in Europe, where mandates to reduce landfill waste have not stopped residents from pitching the majority of their garbage. Now the European Commission is trying to nudge the economic bloc into adopting opt a more circular economy.

To that end, late last week the EC last week adopted a framework to ramp up waste diversion and recycling efforts in its member states. Moving past the current nations’ obligations to divert half of their trash from landfills by 2020, these proposals are far more aggressive. By 2030, Europeans will be asked to recycle 70 percent of municipal waste and 80 percent of packaging waste. The EC also recommends a total ban on the burial of recyclables in landfills by 2025 and suggests new proposals for slashing marine waste at sea and food waste on land.

To score a buy-in from the bevy of states that together form the world’s largest economy but at the same time comprise a fickle group, the EC is positioning this proposal as one centered on economic growth.

According to the EC, this “circular economy package” is not just about bans and reductions, but also about creating wealth. The authors of this framework suggest an ambitious zero-waste program could generate up to 580,000 jobs, would save European industry €630 billion annually (US$856 billion) and prevent the loss of valuable materials that would otherwise take up space in municipal dumps. The framework also promises additional economic benefits, an example being a steady increase in GDP due to the continued boost in resource productivity.

So how will this shift to a zero-waste economy work? For now the EC is supporting this circular economic plan with more suggested initiatives. Among them include a “green employment” initiative; a “green action plan” for small- and medium-sized enterprises; and plan to ensure the building and construction industries are greener. Eventually these frameworks will end up as proposed legislation to be passed in Brussels.


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Re: what is the circular economy?

Unread postby americandream » Mon 07 Jul 2014, 21:06:42

Commodification (wants based value accumulation is) by definition, open.
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