The promise of the circular economy has not yet been realised

A circular economy is based on the principles of designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use, and regenerating natural systems. Although there has been well developed thinking in this area since the early 2000s, industry has been slow to adopt anything approaching a truly circular approach, in which object design is optimised for reuse / recycling.

This is due partly to inertia and unease over disrupting established supply chains and ways of working and partly a function of low commodity prices and lack of external pressure to change.

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation estimates that were to to adopt circular economy principles at scale, we could reduce emissions by nearly 50% over the coming decade. Emissions reductions would be largely a function of reduced waste within our systems (the elimination of associated costs including transport) but would also come from identifying new, lower carbon materials and from regenerative agriculture.