What is the circular economy?

1 min read

The circular economy….the phrase sounds like some strange new concept created by the tech community. The concept has actually been around since 1966, but didn’t catch on and gain wide appeal until recently. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation helped propel the circular economy by outlining the economic opportunities from this and creating a framework. So what is the circular economy exactly?

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation defines the circular economy as:

Looking beyond the current take-make-dispose extractive industrial model, a circular economy aims to redefine growth, focusing on positive society-wide benefits. It entails gradually decoupling economic activity from the consumption of finite resources, and designing waste out of the system. Underpinned by a transition to renewable energy sources, the circular model builds economic, natural, and social capital. It is based on three principles:

  • Design out waste and pollution
  • Keep products and materials in use
  • Regenerate natural systems

The video below also explains the circular economy in more visual terms:

The circular economy is basically designing products that can be recycled and having this entire system powered by renewable energy. It’s changing the way you think about making things.

How does the circular economy relate to the automotive industry?

In terms of the automotive industry, the circular economy has a huge impact. With advances in technology, remanufacturing automotive parts has become more common. When you think of remanufacturing, it actually isn’t the same as recycling or repairing parts. According to the Remanufacturing Industries Council, “remanufacturing is a comprehensive and rigorous industrial process by which a previously sold, worn, or non-functional product or component is returned to a “like-new” or “better-than-new” condition and warranted in performance level and quality.” For some automotive parts, you can hardly tell that they have been remanufactured. Remanufactured automotive parts have many environmental benefits such as using fewer raw materials, saving energy, and reducing waste. The next time you’re looking to get rid of your automotive parts, think about remanufacturing first and see if there’s a possibility to turn that part into something new.


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