Circular economy

What is the circular economy?

A circular economy is one that produces no waste and pollution, by design or intention. It keeps products, parts and materials at their highest use and value at all times. It offers a sustainable alternative to our current linear economy. This is one in which we make, use and then dispose of products, parts and materials. A circular economy also uses fewer new resources and energy. That means there is less cost to the environment.

It isn’t just about how we produce and consume goods and services. A circular economy also means shifting from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. Important too is the role of money and finance. Indeed, some of its pioneers have said that we should look again at the way in which we measure economic performance with a focus on resource efficiency.

Today, we’re already showing some signs of a circular economy. People are consuming goods in different ways. Examples include car-pooling and leasing, reading e-books rather than printed copies, cloud computing, and by sharing products and services.

By 2050, it will be the norm to share, lease, remanufacture and reuse products in London’s circular economy. As a result, we predict by then we’ll have saved £5bn in waste management costs alone. We’ll also have slashed greenhouse gas emissions and introduced new job opportunities across London. 

How are we going circular?

We are working with the London Waste and Recycling Board (LWARB) to develop a route map for London’s transition to the circular economy. The first part ‘Towards a circular economy – context and opportunities’ has been published. This document looks at the opportunities for London to reuse, remanufacture and redistribute materials as well as create new jobs. We’ve identified five focus areas for London including textiles, electricals, packaging, the built environment and food. Over the coming months LWARB will publish chapters on each of these focus areas to set out how to make the most of these items.

Working with business

We are also working with five small businesses from across the focus areas to:

  • Build capacity to better  understand the circular economy business models and innovation opportunities
  • Share best practice and insight with the latest updates, including tools and analysis
  • Help networking with worldwide circular economy experts
  • Collaborate and encourage activities that work together across different sectors

To find out more about the circular economy, watch this video by Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

Report: Innovative design – Rubbish in Resources out

This report shows how waste material reuse and recovery facilities can be integrated into urban areas using creative architectural design, bringing community benefits in the form of new products, employment and low carbon energy generation.  

Read Innovative design – Rubbish in Resources out

  • 30
    of clothes are left unworn in UK - worth around £30 billion
  • £800
    annual spend
    on new electrical and electronic goods in UK, per household
  • 50
    kg per year
    of plastic is consumed is by each person in the UK
  • £1.6
    of avoidable food waste comes from London households per year

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