The development of a new economic model, as an alternative to the current production and consumption based model, is a priority in the policies of many administrations and of the European Union. The green economy and circular economy is presented as an alternative model that has the potential to solve environmental challenges whilst also generating business opportunities and economic growth.
The circular economy, as its name suggests, is based on a circular model of organisation. This involves the principle of closing the life cycle of products, services, waste, materials, water and energy. This circular model replaces the current linear model based on extraction, manufacture, use and disposal which, due to the high consumption and population growth, is unsustainable in the long term.
The green economy presents a broader vision, since it includes economic activities based on the reduction of environmental impacts and risks. In this sense, the circular economy contributes to a green economy since it proposes an improvement in the management of resources and allows the development of a more efficient economy.
Innovation, in its broadest sense (development of new technologies, processes, services and new business models), together with the comprehensive change in consumer behaviour habits and the efforts of the administration and companies will be the key elements to achieve the transition to a circular economy. That is why research and development centres are a key and indispensable factor to drive the necessary changes for the development and implementation of both the circular economy and, in a broader sense, the green economy.
In other words, the development of the circular economy requires a change to a 360º vision that promotes new ways of producing and consuming. The transition to a circular economy affects the whole value chain (designers, suppliers of raw materials and energy, manufacturers, distributors, consumers, administrations, waste managers, etc.) and needs a global and systemic vision to face the different barriers to its implementation.
In a green economy, income growth and employment are driven by investments (public and private) that reduce carbon emissions and pollution, improve energy efficiency and resources. The model is based on maximizing efficiency in the use of resources and energy sources while minimizing the negative impacts on people and the environment.
Although the green economy is not recognized as a sector in itself, it can be applied to any sector that has the objective of reducing its impact on the environment and providing goods and services in a sustainable manner.
You can find more information at:
Ellen MacArthur Foundation, Towards a circular economy: Business rationale for an accelerated transition
COTEC Report – Situation and evolution of the circular economy in Spain.
Diputació de Barcelona, Network of Cities and towns working towards sustainability and the green and circular economy at the local level: How to get into action and tools for local entities (2018)