Transitioning from linear to circular
"It's the economy, stupid!"
When Bill Clinton launched his famous quote in his 1992 presidential campaign, he referred to the lineair economy. In fact, the concept of a circular economy did not exist in the ’90s. Nor did the notion that a linear economy ultimately leads to the major environmental challenges the earth faces now: climate change, mass pollution – both at land and at sea – and the global socioeconomic impact it creates in societies.
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”
So, only by tackling the problem at root level we can change the future for the better. In other words, if the linear economy is the problem … how does the solution look like?
Thanks to the brilliant mind- and the resources of Dame Ellen MacArthur, the concept of a circular economy was introduced to a broader public.
The seeds were planted in 1966 already by Kenneth Boulding, yet the roots grew significantly in January 2012, when a report was released entitled Towards the Circular Economy: Economic and business rationale for an accelerated transition. The report, commissioned by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and developed by McKinsey & Company, was the first of its kind to consider the economic and business opportunity for the transition to a restorative, circular model. Using product case studies and economy-wide analysis, the report details the potential for significant benefits across the EU. It argues that a subset of the EU manufacturing sector could realize net materials cost savings worth up to $630 billion annually towards 2025—stimulating economic activity in the areas of product development, remanufacturing and refurbishment. Towards the Circular Economy also identified the key building blocks in making the transition to a circular economy, namely in skills in circular design and production, new business models, skills in building cascades and reverse cycles, and cross-cycle/cross-sector collaboration.