About circular economy
Circular economy is an environmentally considerate way of conducting business. In all stages of production the environmental consequences and sparing aspects of the resources are considered. Possibilities and solutions for reusing or recycling the product at the end of its life cycle are thought of already when designing the product.
Basically it means that when you want to design for example a bag, you consider what are the environmental impacts of the materials and the resources that you use for making the bag, how long the customer can use that bag and how it is possible to give it a new life after the customer stops using it.
It is very important that the material is top quality to begin with as this creates the basis for longevity of the product. Design should consider the possibilities for care and repair to prolong product lifetime. For later recycling options it is important to use single or simpler materials as the more mixed they are the harder it is to separate them for processing into new and also lasting materials.
One of the essential aspects of circular economy is that the manufacturer thinks ahead about how the customer can utilise the product later without sending it directly to landfill. Companies have different ways to do this and in fashion the most common model is to return the product to the producer who then reuses or recycles it.
There are many different ways to implement circular economy. Renting, lending and sharing are fortunately emerging also in fashion industry to reduce the pressure to buy and own all the things that you actually rarely use.
Many cities have initiated strategies for transition from linear economy to a circular economy to decrease the overconsumption and growth of landfills. Among them we find Amsterdam, London, Brussels, San Francisco and Toronto, to name a few. European Union has also created a general strategy. A more specific Estonian strategy is in the process of development under the leadership of the Ministry of the Environment.
Ellen MacArthur Foundation is one of the biggest and the most active promoter of the circular economy. On their website you can find a lot of information about the principles and a lot of examples how it has been implemented in different kinds of businesses.
Our neighbouring country Finland The Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra has been actively spreading the knowhow on circular economy business models. In addition to information there are around 100 examples of how Finnish companies are already implementing it.