Ken Webster’s latest thoughts on the circular economy have been published in Circulate.  They begin:

The circular economy describes a feedback-rich economy in all its embedded glories: energy, materials and information.  It is one in which stocks matter, since they are the source and destination of complex flows, stock maintenance and even enhancement.

Regeneration is the ideal, as well as a basic precondition of an economy which works long term. One thing the circular economy should not be confused with is some sort of perpetual gadget machine in which stuff is made and remade with nary a loss or impediment, with nothing new or unsullied: a place where eager businesses recover their products and magic them back to life for their customers with no waste.  Why should they recover their products exactly?  What’s wrong with an ecosystem of businesses being out there?

Perhaps it’s the misunderstanding of the “no waste” idea which causes confusion. Designing out waste does not mean having no materials losses or “zero waste”, but creating realistic materials flows in which resources are valorised elsewhere and elsewhen. It’s uneven as regards scale, or time, or comprehensiveness but should be judged on its ability for resources to be or become a nutrient (as opposed to staying a ‘poison’) and to be accessible, and accessible widely.

As a key thinker in the evolution of ideas around the circular economy, Ken’s own evolving ideas are worth noting.  To read more of this engaging stuff, just click here.  If you want even more, then try “The Circular Economy: a wealth of flows” which was published by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation last year.  You can click here for a slideshow about the ideas in the book.


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