Circular Business

Understanding Sustainability and Circularity

Do you really understand circularity?

Recently what we call Circularity or Circular Economy, is a term that is born out of the term Sustainability or Sustainable Development. It has been popularised in Europe and the concept grew since the 1970s.

Sustainable Development: Ability to meet needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs

Gro Brundtland

There was a time when we tried to remedy the situation through the 3Rs: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. This did not prove overly successful and we are still at threat of consumption overtaking resource replenishment. This dilemma is thought to be solved through a circular system whereby steps are taken to reduce wastage, up-to a point that it is sustainable. In other words Circularity is about zero waste.

Circularity: Where the value of products, materials and resources is maintained in the economy for as long as possible, and the generation of waste(is) minimised.

Closing the loop- an eu action plan for the circular economy, 2015

This posses a challenge for business which have been following a linear Take> Make> Use> Discard philosophy since industrialisation. They need to be suggested an alternative strategy which is based on sustainability. This strategy would be created on a zero waste premise and attempt to retain value in their products for a longer time. This is called circular business.

Circular economy (CE) is an industrial system, which is an alternative to highly extractive and resource- intensive linear economy principle of take-make-dispose. CE replaces the end-of-life concept with restoration and regeneration, shifts towards usage of superior design of materials, products, systems and business models for waste elimination. CE aims at retaining value of resources, products and materials at their highest by keeping them in use as long as possible, minimising wastage at each life-cycle stage, and extracting the maximum value through reusing, repairing, recovering, remanufacturing and regenerating products and materials at the end of each service value.

Circular Economy in electronics and electrical sector, Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology, Govt. of India, 2021

The term – Circularity, is still in development in India. It is limited to a scope of hazardous waste management. It is often confused with the disposing of waste, rather than preventing of waste. This further poses challenges for the growth of circular business. While all elements for a transition to a circular economy are present, it requires a mindset transition from the colonial and industrial methods of development and to create a new path.

Understanding Circular Business