As the National Centre for the Circular Economy, the first question most people ask us is “what is the circular economy?”

Our Linear economy

The best way to explain it is to look at the way we live now. Our current economic system is linear, not circular. That means natural resources move in a line from extraction, through manufacturing, to use and then disposal: that’s linear, from start to finish. We take raw materials from nature to make products, use them for a short time and then throw them away. This linear economy is based on taking, making and disposing and so we rely on the continual mining and harvesting of raw materials. Not reusing things makes our society a major driver of climate change and biodiversity loss.

On the other hand, the circular economy is inspired by nature and turns the linear model into a circle. Instead of constantly using and throwing away products, a circular economy keeps them in use for as long as possible, maximising their value while minimising, or preventing entirely, the generation of waste and pollution. In the circular economy, products are designed to last, to be repaired, reused, remanufactured and recycled or made available through new business models such as sharing, renting or providing products as a service. The circular economy can create significant positive impacts for our economy, our society and our environment. 

To see what the circular economy looks like in action, come to our Rediscovery Centre. It’s an experience that’s unique in Europe: Our bespoke eco-demonstration centre showcases innovative solutions to help us live more circular and sustainable lives.

1 Design for durability 2 Production + Distribution 3 Use & Refuse 4 Recycling