by Alessandro Amadori
The circular economy is a model of economy enabling a virtually endless economic
cycle despite the use of limited material resources. It is a logic that dismisses the
idea of “waste” in favor of the idea of material flows; both biological and inert
substances should be either re-adsorbed by the biosphere or reused to create new
According to the European Parliament, “the circular economy is a model of
production and consumption which involves sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing,
refurbishing and recycling existing materials and products as long as possible”.
It is called “circular” since, just like nature, it flows in a cycle. In natural ecosystems,
plants grow from soil providing food to animals that in turn, when they die,
decompose into fertile soil that will support the growth of a new generation of
plants. Similarly, in a circular economy broken items are repaired or, if they cannot
be fixed, are treated as “raw” material for producing new items.
First, this means improving product design in order to increase items lifespan and
to make as easy as possible both repairing (as far as it can be done) and
separation of different materials when eventually the product is dismissed.
Production must limit its impact on the environment (i.e. recurring to energy from
renewable sources) and the production itself should be reduced to a minimum,
exploiting as much as possible existing items through sharing, repairing and
refurbishing. Boosting reuse is the core of the circular economy revolution.
Unfortunately, recycling is still expensive; public authorities should increase their
efforts to make it more convenient; worth mentioning is the choice of the Swedish
government, who reduced VAT on repair services.
There are plenty of reasons to switch to a circular economy: avoiding multiple
problems connected to the disposal of an always-increasing quantity of waste,
limiting pollution and global warming, coping with the limited availability of scarse,
already-exploited natural resources.
Every year, the average European citizen consumes 14 tons of resources and
produces 5 tons of waste.
We badly need to switch to a circular economy since we produce too much waste,
that is often toxic and/or not recyclable and would eventually turn our planet into a
Such a significant transition -both cultural and industrial- can not be implemented
without the favor of public opinion; measuring the citizens’ level of awareness and
support to the circular economy plays a key role.
Recently, Ipsos presented the results of a research (sponsored by Conou,
Legambiente and Editoriale Nuova Ecologia) at the EcoForum meeting.
According to this study, 76% of italians know the meaning of “environmental
sustainability” and 40% know the basic principles of a circular economy.
It is an encouraging outcome, proving an increasing interest and support to the
circular economy, key factors in order to boost a change in individual habits and
72% of the Recovery Fund will be used to help the transition to a greener economy;
more about this study HERE