The circular economy is the foundation of everything we do at 5REDO. Our firm is built around this principle, and our core goal is to help move businesses, organizations, and our world toward it. It’s important not only for our clients and partners to understand this concept, but we believe everyone could benefit from learning about the circular economy.

What is the circular economy?

“What will it take to transform our throwaway economy into one where waste is eliminated, resources are circulated, and nature is regenerated?”

This is a question posed by The Ellen MacArthur Foundation, a group that works to accelerate the transition to a circular economy. It captures the essence of the concept on a broad level: to change the way things currently work, and create something better.

To understand the circular economy, we first need to grasp the structure of the current one, which still dictates the majority of businesses and production cycles around the world. The very notion of ‘circular’ indicates regeneration; something that sustains and replenishes, where each piece is connected. The opposite of this would be something linear: a cycle that starts at one point and ends at another. This is the basis on which our economy since the Industrial Age has been formed: an item is produced, used, and thrown away, either becoming garbage, or in some cases recycled or composted (but often not entirely). In any case, waste is generated to some extent. This is commonly referred to as the take-make-dispose system, and it defines many current production and supply chains.

An economy that is circular, then, is based on a sustainable system that prioritizes extending the value and life cycle of products, and reducing or refusing waste. In a circular economy, we produce with value, intent, and innovation, and make decisions based on protecting the environment.

What does the circular economy look like?
There are already many innovators, business owners, and everyday people across the globe incorporating principles of the circular economy into their lives. At 5REDO, we focus on helping businesses adopt and shift to circular economy principles, but you don’t have to be a corporation to take on the values associated with it.

By reusing, repurposing, or extending the life of everyday items you own, you’re participating in the circular economy. Repairing clothing or tools, using scrap materials to build furniture, or reducing the amount of single-use items you own are all examples of how to incorporate the circular economy into your everyday life.

An example of the circular economy on a larger scale looks like restructuring the types of materials used in production, and extending this across the whole supply chain. For example, a company that makes tires may look at using recycled or upcycled materials for new tires, and extending the life of used tires by repurposing the components for construction of new materials (our firm conducted a study about this, showing how it’s been effective in Europe and could translate to the North American market).

What are the impacts of a circular economy?
Transitioning to a circular economy does not have to equal loss of jobs or a dip in economic productivity. Rather, it prioritizes protecting our planet while also fostering innovation and encouraging a more global mindset, where resources are shared and we put more care and thought into our everyday practices.

Canada has explicitly identified the circular economy as a priority, and each day, innovators are finding solutions to outdated, environmentally harmful methods across many industries. The circular economy is the way of the future.

Resources & further reading