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The dominant model for economy for a large part of human history has been linear economy.

In this model, products have a beginning and an end. Their life, in fact, ends in the garbage, where the material becomes waste, unusable for other purposes. This type of activity, in the face of the constant and huge demand for consumer goods, means that raw materials are increasingly scarce. Furthermore, the extraction and disposal processes have a strong impact on the environment and on the climate.

Circular economy is an alternative model designed to replace linear economy, which has now become unsustainable. Circular economy is an economic system capable of regenerating itself, designed to give a second life to a product that has finished its function on the market; the materials of the latter, in fact, are recovered, “re-thought” and reintroduced into the economic cycle.

The foundations of the Circular Economy are five. They are:

  1. Environmental/resource sustainability: use of recyclable or biodegradable raw materials, together with renewable energy.
  2. New vision of the concept of ownership: there are many ways in which we can own something: we can buy it – and the product will be ours forever – but we can also borrow it from those who own it and use it only for the time and purpose we need.
  3. Life cycle extension: designing products so that they can last longer and be reused, repaired.
  4. Recovery and recycling: create new production cycles in which “waste” can be recovered and used in other products.

Sharing: create and promote platforms where users, owners of goods, can allocate their products so that they can be reused.

Circular Economy therefore means: sharing, lending, reusing, repairing, reconditioning and recycling existing materials and products for as long as possible. Circularity means minimizing waste and regenerating resources.


What is Europe doing?

In March 2020, the European Commission established a specific Action Plan for the Circular Economy, in line with the European Green Deal, consisting of a series of legislative initiatives planned for the years 2020-2021.

These initiatives aim to make products more sustainable, through eco-sustainable design and greater durability.

For example:

  • making spare parts and repair manuals available,
  • offer more information on products, in order to make consumers more aware of their choices,
  • reduce waste, harmonizing separate collection systems and establishing a specific institution for extended producer responsibility
  • downsize resource-intensive industries, such as electronics, textiles, packaging, and food.