Circular Economy

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Circular Economy which is best described as an "industrial system that is restorative or regenerative by intention and design. It replaces the ‘end-of-life’ concept with restoration, shifts towards the use of renewable energy, eliminates the use of toxic chemicals, which impair reuse, and aims for the elimination of waste through the superior design of materials, products, systems, and, within this, business models’’(Circular Impacts, 2017). The Circular Economy model improves resource efficiency and reduces environmental impact on natural capital by designing products in a more recyclable way, adopting efficient technology, and turning waste into a resource.

The circular model of growth, decoupled from the consumption of finite resources and capable of delivering resilient economic systems, is increasingly looked upon as the next wave of development (Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 2015). To realise this outlook, governments and business must adapt systemic approaches to address the remaining challenges to resource efficiency, especially in sectors such as manufacturingfood and construction.  The importance of transitioning to a circular economy is increasingly recognised by the global community. The European Union, for example, has developed this model: a low-carbon, resource-efficient and increasingly circular economy characterised by high employment, technological innovation and sustainable growth (ICTSD, ERCST, 2018). The Commission adopted a Circular Economy Package to stimulate the transition of European businesses and consumers towards a circular economy, where resources are used in a more sustainable manner. The idea of a “circular economy” is also promoted internationally, including by China, the European Commission, Japan and many others (UN International Resource Panel, 2016).

Relevance to the SDGs

The Circular Economy is embodied in Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 8, 9 and 12. SDG 8 promotes a sustained, inclusive and sustainable growth, within others, through the improvement of global resource efficiency in consumption and production. SDG 9, on sustainable infrastructure and industrialisation, urges industries to adopt resource efficient and environmentally sound technologies. SDG 12 addresses the sustainable consumption and production emphasise the resource efficiency and waste reduction. 


SDG 8.4
Sustainable Consumption
and Production
   SDG 9.4
Green Industry
   SDG 12.2
Natural Resource
   SDG 12.5
  Waste Management


Case Studies

United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), GREEN-WIN
SEED, United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

Batumi Initiative on Green Economy (BIG-E)