Circular Economy 30 second overview

The circular economy, industrial symbiosis, resource exchange and sustainable supply chain management all are slightly different takes on the same theme.

As a core value, the circular economy aims to keep products, components and materials at their highest utility and value at all times, distinguishing between technical and biological cycles.

As with all things, jargon, buzz words and technical terms are introduced into the conversation, often excluding the intended audience in the process.  The following are a few terms which you may encounter.

  • Regenerative: Characteristic of bio-cycles, able to renew materials despite or without human intervention.
  • Extractive: Characteristic of the linear economy, based on a “take, make and dispose” model.
  • Biomimetic: Design or process which takes insights from living systems.
  • Systemic: Relating to the whole complex organisation, as opposed to a particular part.
  • Downcycling: Process of converting materials into new materials of lesser quality and reduced functionality.
  • Upcycling: reuse (discarded objects or material) in such a way as to create a product of higher quality or value than the original.
  • Industrial symbiosis: An association between two or more industrial facilities or companies in which the wastes or byproducts of one become the raw materials for another
  • Supply chain management (SCM): The management of the flow of goods and services. It includes the movement and storage of raw materials, work-in-process inventory, and finished goods from point of origin to point of consumption.
  • Circular Economy: A generic term for an economy that is producing no waste or pollution and is restorative and regenerative by design or intention.
  • Remanufacturing: The rebuilding of a product to specifications of the original manufactured product.
  • Cascading: Putting materials and components into different uses after end of first useful life, across different value streams.
  • Biodegradeable: Capable of being broken down (decomposed) rapidly by the action of microorganisms.
  • Servitisation: The shift from selling products to selling the service they provide.
  • Circular supply chain:  Introduces fully renewable, recyclable, or biodegradable materials that can be used in consecutive life cycles.
  • Recovery and recycling:  Creates production and consumption systems in which everything that used to be considered a waste is revived for other uses.
  • Product life-extension:  By maintaining and improving products this model elongates their life.
  • Sharing platform:  This model helps consumers save money and make money while more effectively using assets.
  • Product as a service:  Performance of a product is valued over volume of sales and “leases” products instead of selling them.
 This list not exhaustive and no doubt there will be new terminology in use as soon as somebody comes up with a “clever” way of saying something other than in plane english.