Schools Of Thought

The circular economy concept has deep-rooted origins and cannot be traced back to one single date or author. Its practical applications to modern economic systems and industrial processes, however, have gained momentum since the late 1970s, led by a small number of academics, thought-leaders and businesses.

The generic concept has been refined and developed by the following schools of thought:

Industrial Ecology

“Industrial ecology is the study of material and energy flows through industrial systems”. Focusing on connections between operators within the ‘industrial ecosystem’, this approach aims at creating closed-loop processes in which waste serves as an input, thus eliminating the notion of an undesirable by-product. Industrial ecology adopts a systemic point of view, designing production processes in accordance with local ecological constraints whilst looking at their global impact from the outset, and attempting to shape them so they perform as close to living systems as possible. This framework is sometimes referred to as the ‘science of sustainability’, given its interdisciplinary nature, and its principles can also be applied in the services sector. With an emphasis on natural capital restoration, industrial ecology also focuses on social wellbeing.

Industrial Ecology