Building a circular economy means rethinking how products are designed, manufactured, used, and treated at the end of their useful life.
WHAT IS A CIRCULAR ECONOMY?
Our current linear “take-make-waste” economy is resource intensive and puts pressure on Earth’s natural ecosystems. The circular economy poses an alternative economic system that retains resources and manufactured goods within the system through innovation, reuse and repair, redistribution, reconditioning, and recycling processes, all of which are powered by renewable energy. These principles, which have been integral to traditional ways of life for Indigenous Peoples since time immemorial, help to eliminate waste, reduce emissions, and cut virgin resource consumption.
OUR CURRENT SYSTEM
Our current economy is linear - most of the products we purchase are made from virgin resources and are designed to be used for only a short time before being destined for landfill. Only 7.2% of materials are recirculated back into the global economy at end-of-life. This “take-make-waste” economy is resource-intensive and puts pressure on Earth’s natural ecosystems.
THE CIRCULAR ECONOMY
Our circular economy model shows how products and materials recirculate within the supply chain through reduction, reuse and repair, redistribution, reconditioning, and recycling processes. The size of each circle represents how energy and resource intensive the process is. For instance, repairing a wool sweater is less resource intensive than recycling the sweater into a new wool good; therefore, the loopback circle for reuse and repair is smaller than that for recycling. These processes are all powered by renewable energy, such as solar, wind, biofuel, and geothermal power.
BY SHIFTING TO A CIRCULAR ECONOMY, WE CAN:
Create green jobs
Invest in local economies
Increase community resilience
Promote equitable resource distribution
Regenerate natural ecosystems and processes
Mitigate climate change
Credit: Precious Plastics
LEARN ABOUT EACH RECIRCULATION PROCESS:
Products that have reached their end-of-life and are no longer useful. Materials within products are separated, and re-enter the production process to create new products.
REUSE + REPAIR
Products made/chosen can be reused and repaired in order to reduce waste. Upkeep and simple maintenance extends product life.
Products are returned to manufacturer for reconditioning to be upgraded for continued use.
Products we purchase are not wasted and packaging is greatly reduced. The products we buy add real value to our lives and businesses. Eliminating waste starts with our purchasing decisions.
Products may have become obsolete to one consumer but has value to another. "Waste" products are resold, shared, or donated.
The circular economy is powered by renewable energy such as solar, wind, biofuel, and geothermal power.