CSCE 4.0


The world we live in is facing resurgent challenges in sustainability and environmental protection. One of the key solutions offering hope for change is concept of circular economy. This new model is quickly getting popular and has potential to change, how we perceive consumption, production, and waste management.

What is circular economy?

Circular economy is a method, which is trying to eliminate waste and maximize the effectivity of raw material usage. In comparison to traditional linear economy, where raw materials are consumed and then being thrown away as waste, circular economy is focused on reuse, recycling and renewal of raw materials and products. The goal is to create sustainable circular system, where products and raw materials are being used as long as possible, what decreases pressure on nature and ensures better future for our children and future generations.

Difference between linear and circular economy

There are two contradictory models of management with raw materials, products, and waste. Difference is in the approaches in the following areas:

  1. Linear model vs. circularity
  • Linear economy is a one-way flow of raw materials – from the extraction of raw materials to product manufacturing, which are used and then being thrown away as waste. This model is characterized by consumption and low level of recycling.
  • Circular economy considers raw material and products as the key components, which are maintained in closed cycle, where the repeated reuse, restoration, recycling, and refurbishment takes place. Products are designed in a way to extend product lifetime and minimize waste.
  1. Waste management
  • In linear economy waste is considered as a problem, which is being either stored in landfill, or burnt, what has negative impact on the environment.
  • In circular economy, waste is considered as raw material. Raw materials and products are recycled to be reused again, what minimizes the amount of waste and negative impact on the environment.
  1. Reusable raw materials
  • Linear economy is focused on using non-reusable raw materials and materials, what makes mining more expensive and recycling difficult.
  • Circular economy prefers renewable raw materials and materials that can be reused and recycled with less impact on the environment.
  1. Product design
  • In linear economy the design is focused on long-term product life cycle, what enhances frequent product replacement and consumption.
  • In circular economy the products are designed for durability, repairability and recyclability. Product design plays key role to minimize the use of new raw materials.

  1. Economic consequences
  • Linear economy can lead to price fluctuations of raw materials and is dependent on non-renewable resources, what can lead to problems in the economy.
  • Circular economy can contribute to creation of new jobs in the areas of product replacement, recycling and renewal. It also supports long-term sustainability of the economy.

How does circularity work?

Circularity consists of three main principles: 

  1. Design with focus on circularity:
    Products are designed in a way, they are easy to be repaired, upgraded, and recycled. Design is the key factor to achieve circularity.
  2. Renewable and recycled raw materials
    Circularity prefers raw materials that are renewable and easy to be recycled. This decreases impact on the environment and energy needed for production of new materials.
  3. Repeated use and recycling
    Products and materials are kept in circulation as long as possible. That can include repairment, renewal and recycling of products.

Benefits of circular economy

Circular economy brings many benefits, not only for society, but also for the environment:

  1. Reduction of waste
    Circularity decreases the amount of waste that ends on landfill, or is burnt, what decreases negative impact on the environment.
  2. Energy effectivity
    Renewal and recycling of raw materials decreases the use of new resources and economical costs of production.
  3. Economic growth
    Circular economy creates new opportunities for companies in production, recycling and enhances innovations.
  4. Long-term sustainability
    Circular model provides long-term sustainability and has potential to decrease pressure on the environment and resources.

Examples of successful initiatives

Many organizations and governments support circular economy. For example

  1. Sweden

This Nordic country has become the symbol of circular economy, with many companies and initiatives focused to minimize waste and maximize recycling.

  1. Unilever
    This global giant operating in fast-moving consumer goods, has pledged for 100% recycling of plastic packages until 2025 and for using renewable raw materials in its products.
  2. Amsterdam:
    Netherland’s capital set goal to become the first “circular city” in the world, which makes maximum use of resources and minimizes waste.

How can you contribute towards circular economy?

  1. Recycling
    It’s important to ensure recycling will become part of our everyday life, which means separation, and recycling of waste as much as possible.
  2. Shopping with focus on circularity
    There shall be preference for products that are designed with regard for simple repairment and recyclability.
  3. Product renewal support
    Product renewal and repairment should come before the purchase of a new one.
  4. Education
    Get to know the concept of circularity and share this idea with others.

Circular economy is perceived as the long-term sustainable and innovative way of resources management. Many governments and companies are starting to move their emphasis from linear economy towards circular, to decrease environmental problems and create long-term sustainable future for all people on the planet.

More information about project can be found here.