The concept of Circular Economy
"When we look at what is truly sustainable, the only real model that has worked over long periods of time is the natural world."
The key concept of this economy is the idea of a positive and continuous cycle that preserves the initial natural capital even if it undergoes an endless change. It is the contrary of the linear approach “the man takes, uses and wastes”. The circular economy aims at keeping the products, their components and materials at the same level of value and utility and is efficient on every level:
Deleting the refuses
- All products and materials are developed with safe life circles for human health and environment and they can be always reused through technical and biological metabolisms;
- The circular economy creates and takes part to systems that create and regain the values of all materials after their use
- All performances of our resources are optimized
Using the power of renewable energy
- The circular economy makes use only of current solar energy. Therefore there is a maximization of the renewable energy exploitation
Respecting human and natural systems
- The circular economy promotes healthy ecosystems and controls the local impacts
- Manages the use of water to improve its quality
- Preserves and improves the natural capital
Minimizes the system risks by managing finished actions and renewable flows
The earth is an autonomous ecological system with different layers:
The lithosphere: the portion of crust and mantel from which the metals are taken;
The biosphere: all areas where the climate conditions are favourable for the human life;
The hydrosphere: all waters present underground and on the earth’s ground;
The atmosphere: all gases that surround the earth, where all our waste gases end.
What is our economy based on?
First of all, we take our resources from all the above described spheres and their materials are used and reused once or more times through their recycle or restructuration. At the end of the economy cycles we must return them and go back to the natural cycles of the earth spheres.
There is a current unbalance between our economics and the natural earth cycles, because we are still focused on a « linear » approach and we want to keep our current technological lifestyle, we are wasting enormous quantities of virgin materials.
The circular economy would re-establish this balance and save our future.
Moreover, most of the chemical transformations of the natural earth cycles (e.g photosynthesis, metabolisms of all earth organisms) occur under ambient pressure and temperature. On the contrary there are other technical-economic cycles that are sustainable and circular according to the matter but from an energetical point of view they are not as efficient as the natural ones.
Therefore, the circular economy is the possible solution to the balance necessities between Man and Nature.
The existence of mankind, which is considered as a symbiotic organism, is strictly connected to its surrounding environment and nowadays the economy must take the natural laws of earth evolution into consideration.
Extending the central economy to the interactions with other earth systems, it won’t be an economy based only on solutions created by mankind. It will be also in symbiosis with other already available systems provided and used responsibly by the Earth.
For example, circular economy increases the natural capital as well by encouraging nutrition flows inside the system and creating new conditions for their regeneration (as it happens for the soil).
This concept has deep-routed origins and cannot be traced back to a single date or author. Its practical application to modern economical systems and industrial processes has increased in the 70es thanks to contributions of scholars, economists and companies.