A circular economy preserves the value added in products for as long as possible and virtually eliminates waste. It retains the resources within the economy when a product has reached the end of its life, so that they remain in productive use and create further value. It may involve:

  • Increasing the time products deliver their service before coming to the end of their useful life (durability);
  • Reducing the use of materials that are hazardous or difficult to recycle (substitution);
  • Creating markets for recycled materials (standards, public procurement);
  • Designing products that are easier to repair, upgrade, remanufacture of recycle (eco-design);
  • Incentivising waste reduction and high-quality separation by consumers;
  • Incentivising separation and collection systems that minimise the costs of recycling and reuse;
  • Facilitating industrial clusters that exchange by-products to prevent them from becoming wastes (industrial symbiosis);
  • Encouraging wider consumer choice through renting or leasing instead of owning products (new business models)
  • The circular economy differs from the prevailing linear “take-make-consume and dispose” model, which is based on the assumption that resources are abundant, available and cheap to dispose of. It is increasingly clear that this is not a viable model for sustainable economic growth. Nevertheless even an optimised circular economy would require some virgin raw material inputs and produce small amounts of residual waste.
Source: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-14-763_en.htm