Mythbusting: What does the circular economy actually mean?

Its a fancy word for recycling right? Well, sort can have a half a mark for that. Let me have a stab at explaining.


Rather than a specific activity, the circular economy is more a broad concept that houses many different types of activities. The central tenet of that concept is designing an economy that eliminates waste via continual resource use. Any activity that moves an economy towards that goal, and away from our traditional industrial economic model of "take, make, dispose" can call itself a circular economy activity. In the graphic above you can see our traditional 'linear' economic model as the chunky left to right boxes, which you'll notice ends in 'waste'. The circular economy represents the introduction of the arrows that 'loop' resources back into the economy after they are used rather than let them be wasted.

So what are some examples of circular activities? Re-design, repair, refurbishment, remanufacturing, reuse/resale, sharing and recycling are amongst a myriad of others. Implementing any of these activities helps to create a 'closed-loop' system, which helps stop waste, pollution and carbon emissions leaking from our economic system.

ReThread sits in the reuse-by-resale loop. Its our job to keep clothes in use as long as possible by continually finding a new home for them!

I'd also like to give a shout-out to the 're-design' loop, where some fascinating things are happening. Architects and designers are challenging themselves to "design out waste". Building products out of specific materials, or putting them together in a certain way, which allows them to be maintained, refurbished or dismantled-and-reused easily once worn out. Its the circular holy grail!

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