What is
the circular economy?

Where we have come from The Industrial Revolution laid the foundation for how the economy of today operates.

Where we have come from

A transformation in our ability to make things changed society.

We’ve been at a turning point before. In 1684 Thomas Savery invented the steam engine and it changed everything. This invention kick-started the industrial revolution, which transformed our ability to make things. Raw materials and energy were seemingly infinite, and labour was readily available. For the first time in history, goods were mass produced.

How this looks today

We turn resources into an extraordinary number of products.

Since the industrial revolution, the rapid pace of technological progress has continued. The resulting innovations mean that many now have access to products from all over the world at affordable prices. These products have brought many of us levels of material comfort unimaginable to previous generations.

How this looks today We now have the knowledge and tools to build an economy that is fit for the 21st Century.
Our way of doing things is reaching its limits Every second, the equivalent of one garbage truck of textiles is landfilled or burned.

Our way of doing things is reaching its limits

The current system is no longer working for businesses, people or the environment.

We take resources from the ground to make products, which we use, and, when we no longer want them, throw them away. Take-make-waste. We call this a linear economy.



Resources are taken from the ground



To make products which are used



When the products are no longer needed or wanted they are discarded

We are disrupting the system

The linear economy has to change.

We must transform all the elements of the take-make-waste system: how we manage resources, how we make and use products, and what we do with the materials afterwards. Only then can we create a thriving economy that can benefit everyone within the limits of our planet.

We are disrupting the system The next generation of pioneers are disrupting the current system from within.

So, what can I do?

With new ways of thinking we can redesign the system. Continue learning about the circular economy and the role that you can play in accelerating the shift.

Discover the circular economy

Learn more about the circular economy, how it is being made into reality in different sectors of the economy, and what you can do to accelerate the transition from linear to circular in our learning hub.


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What is the circular economy? Ellen explains and cites some amazing examples from around the globe in our latest podcast.


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Find out how organisations around the world are going circular.

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