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Circular Economy

What are the environmental benefits?

The initial target for the circular economy is to have a positive effect on the ecosystem and to counteract the overload and the exploitation of the environment. The circular economy has the potential to result in a reduction in emissions and use of primary raw materials, a optimization of agricultural productivity, and a decrease in negative externalities.

Fewer emissions

By following the principles of circular economy greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced:

  • By re-use, dematerialization, and service models, there are fewer (polluting) materials and production processes required to provide adequate service and functionality.
  • Energy-efficient and non-toxic materials, manufacturing and recycling processes will be selected.
  • The system makes use of renewable energy instead of fossil fuels.
  • Residues (including water, gas and solid form) are seen as valuable and are absorbed as much as possible to reuse in the process.
Allwood, 2014

In Europe this may lead to a reduction of 48% carbon dioxide emissions in 2013, or even 83% in 2050. Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 2015a, p. 12

Land productivity and soil health.

The application of the principles of circular economy on the farming system encourages to no longer exploit land and ecosystems but to ensure that important nutrients are returned into the soil. Waste is avoided without sacrificing the productivity of the soil. As a result, the value of the land is growing and the system is more balanced and more resilient.

In Europe, a circular approach of our food systems can lead to a decrease of 80% of artificial fertilizer. This restores the natural balance in the soil. Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 2016

Fewer negative side effects

By following the principles of circular economy, minimizing waste and emissions and separating products to pure residues, unsustainable externalities are managed, such as land use, water, air and soil pollution, emission of toxic substances and climate change. Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 2016