Our waste includes all the goods we buy, use and throw away. The current way we make and use goods is known as a ‘linear economy’. In a linear economy we treat the resources used to make products as though they are unlimited. But many resources that we rely on, such as metals and minerals, will run out if we do not conserve them.

In a linear economy, waste is generated at every stage of a product’s lifecycle, with little to no consideration given to how this waste will be managed.

This diagram shows how resources are used in a linear economy. There are arrows going from left to right with the headingsTake, Make, Use, Dispose

The difference in a circular economy is that products are designed with the end in mind. Waste is designed out of the process. Products are built to be long-lasting. They can also be repaired to extend their lifespan. When they can no longer be used or repaired, they are recycled. This maximises resource use and minimises waste.

A circular economy aims to transform how we make and use products. It challenges us to think about how we can use things again and again. Some local examples of the circular economy include toy libraries, repair cafes and mending groups.

The 3 fundamental principles of circular economy are:

  • Design out waste and pollution.
  • Keep products and materials in use for as long as possible.
  • Regenerate natural systems.
This diagram shows how resources are used in a circular economy. The sections go in a circle to demonstrate how less waste is made