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Circular Economy

For the past 250 years, economies in the developed world have been based on a continuous growth model that relies on a steady supply of inexpensive natural resources. However this approach is coming under increased pressure as a result of social and environmental concerns.

A linear economy built on the principles of ‘take, make and waste’ is not sustainable and alternatives need to be found.

In a circular economy, growth is separated from the use of scarce resources through production models based on long life products that can be renewed, reused, repaired, upgraded or refurbished.

Circular economy systems:

  • keep the added value in products for as long as possible and aim to eliminate waste.
  • keep resources within the economy when a product has reached the end of its life, so that they can be productively used again and again and hence create further value.

 A transition to a more circular economy requires significant changes from product design to new business and market models, new ways of turning waste into a resource to new modes of consumer behaviour.

This will involve innovation in:

  • technologies, 
  • organisation,
  • society,
  • finance methods and
  • policies.

 Many states and companies across the globe have already adopted circular principles to close the loop on energy and material through efforts such as renewable energy investments and recycling.

On 2 December 2015, the European Commission adopted an ambitious new Circular Economy Package. Details are available from the European Commission’s website ec.euroap.eu.


In 2016, negotiation of both the legislative proposals and the proposed Action Plan took place with the Member States and the European Parliament. The results of this process can be found in ‘Closing the Loop’ An EU action plan for the Circular Economy.


In March 2017 a stakeholder conference took place in Brussels to review the work done to date in relation to the circular economy and assess what work still needs to be done.

The World Circular Economy Form 2017 was held on  4  June 2017 in Finland. The forum has created a website so you can share the experience, select the best solutions that allow businesses to gain a competitive advantage, create more value, generate new growth and jobs in societies around the world.

​Ireland supports the Circular Economy proposal presented by the Commission, and recognises that although certain elements of package may prove challenging, the potential for jobs and for the environment presents a valuable opportunity for our country.

The EU has produced a video on  You tube to help people understand the circular economy.