Circular economy originated in the late 1960s and is an alternative to the traditional linear economy. The traditional economy requires a constant flow of new resources, while waste materials are simply buried. In contrast, the idea of a closed economic cycle led to the creation of self-sustaining systems where resources remain in demand and are used for as long as possible. The Limits to Growth
report for the Club of Rome's project
was published in 1972 and made it possible to draw conclusions about the need for systemic change and urge to stop considering nature as an endless source of resources and space for landfill.
In the mid-2000s, there was an impetus to introduce and popularize the ideas of the circular economy. Former yachtswoman Ellen MacArthur made a significant contribution by creating a foundation in her name to promote this approach. Numerous trips on a yacht pushed her to the idea of the exhaustion of those resources that limited her supplies during the voyages, and after that to the realization of the finite resources of the Earth. The Foundation's researches contributed to outlining the economic opportunities for a circular approach, they have combined complementary economic schools into a single system and made this approach well-known.
The linear industrial approach "take-make-dispose resources"
leads to the use of finite resources for creating products with a limited life cycle. These products end up in landfills or incinerators. The circular approach is inspired by living systems and proceeds and is built on the fact that resources can return to economic circulation again.
A full-fledged transition to the circular economy is a global process in which global players must participate (the UN, the EU and others). Local players at the level of producers and consumers could adopt only some of the techniques of a circular economy: for example, you could make a choice towards ethically produced raw materials and processed goods, reduce consumption, properly dispose of waste and/or include them in a new consumption chain.