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Rethinking the future: the circular economy

What are the limits to reduce-recycle-reuse, and where do we go from there?
by

Colin Webster

on 8 November 2012

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Transcript of Rethinking the future: the circular economy

"The difficulty lies, not in the new ideas,
but in escaping from the old ones" John Maynard Keynes Reduce-reuse-recycle Reduce If we reduce our use of a raw material, will we still use it up?

What do we do about the new billions of consumers?

What does our economic system think of 'reduce' as a message?

Is it possible - or desirable - to make people reduce?

If our actions have a positive impact, why would we reduce? Reuse How do we reuse products if they are built to fail?

What do we do about products that can't be reused? Recycle How do we convince people to recycle?

What do we do about products that can't be recycled?

Does recycling recover all of the material?

Is recycled material of a sufficient high quality? = a good thing? ...but is there something better? How can we use raw materials
without using them up?

How do we recover technical materials for the next cycle?

How do we built a robust, restorative economy?

How can business models adapt to the new circumstances? Rethinking the future Why must we
change course? If we consume at 1/2
the rate of the US If we consume at
today's rate Years' supply 2 material flows Biological materials Designed to safely re-enter the biosphere where they add value. Technical materials Designed to circulate at high quality without entering the biosphere. The circular economy An industrial economy that is restorative by design or intention. A shift from products to services Why sell when you can lease at a higher profit?

Why own when renting is cheaper?

Businesses are already adapting; gains are already being made. The principles Waste = food

Diversity = strength

Energy = renewables

Prices = real costs

Money = stuff (goods and services) Find out more:
www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org Video: Rethinking Progress Video: Rethink the Future 147% rise in commodity prices since 2000 Let's look at things from
another perspective 100% in cost of bringing a new oil well online in last decade increase $400 billion fossil fuel consumption
subsidies in 2010
...and rising case studies / videos / teaching resources Business opportunity The report, Towards the Circular Economy, outlined savings of up to $380 billion a year. Read the report here. http://www.thecirculareconomy.org/ source: New Scientist, 2007 Let's analyse some limitations of reduce-reuse-recycle Curriculum for Excellence Themes across learning:

developing global citizens
enterprise
Interdisciplinary learning New qualifications Links to CfE and SQA materials http://tinyurl.com/ellenmacarthurfoundation
Full transcript