Circular Economy: definition & examples | Sustainability Environment
SHIFT Support
Category : Environment
Posted by SHIFT Support  . Feb 20, 2023
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Video Description
In this whiteboard animation video, I explain what we mean by circular economy, I go through all the things we can do to go from our current economy to a circular economy and I use many examples. If you enjoy this video please subscribe

The Circular Economy: A User's Guide by William McDonough & Michael Braungart
Tea kettle example in this video:
Cradle to Cradle:

00:00 Intro
00:33 Definition of circular economy
01:40 Technical materials
03:44 Biological materials
04:14 Substitution & dematerialization examples
05:34 Book recommendation & ending

\u25b6 Update on Interface and dematerialization (4:51): although Interface offers the service of leasing the product, it should be clarified that the demand for this is still quite small in 2020 and the company still sells a lot of its carpet. The growing interest in society in circular economy is helping them increase the take back rates. Instead of saying that "Interface is in charge of maintaining and repairing the product", it would be more accurate to say they take the responsibility for maintenance and take back in cooperation with specialized cleaning companies and their installation partners when the product is purchased under their take back program ReEntry\u00ae in place since 1995.

Examples: copper and lithium as a limited resources, substitution of lithium-ion batteries with sodium-ion batteries, the company Interface as an example of dematerialization with its modular carpet). Circular economy is only one step toward sustainability and sustainable development.

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Videos are created by Alexandre Magnin using years of experience drawing and working as a sustainability consultant with businesses and communities:



When my son was 3 years old and asking his mummy what was this "circular economy" thing she was working on, here is what she told him: it is when everything is healthy food for something else. So simple and sweet. I love it! In other words, it means running the economy like nature runs its own business: plants use carbon dioxide and nutrients to grow and produce oxygen. Animals use oxygen and create carbon dioxide and nutrients. Nothing is wasted. It is a closed loop system. Circular economy is generally opposed to the linear economy (take-make-waste) we have been running for many years. Some people also use the term cradle to cradle as opposed to cradle to grave."

We can split into two categories the things that we need to run into closed loops: technical and biological materials.

Two transition strategies can be very helpful as we are trying to create a circular economy: substitution and dematerialization. Substitution is about using different resources to achieve the same goal. For instance, the world is running out of lithium so unless we can recycle lithium batteries more efficiently, Sodium-Ion batteries might be a better option for car manufacturers in the future.

Dematerialization refers to using less of a resource to serve the same economic function in society. For instance, Interface is the world's largest designer and maker of commercial modular carpet. But they don't sell the carpet anymore, their customers buy the service of having carpet on their floor. Interface is in charge of maintaining and repairing the carpet and they do that very efficiently because it is their specialty and they control the entire process. Using tiles, they can replace only the ones that need replacing. The old tiles go back to the factory to be recycled where new tiles are made with 98% recycled or bio-based content. How is that for almost circular?