- 05 jun
Circular economy is an illusion!
Yesterday, I googled ‘circular economy’ and got more than 2 million hits! The circular economy refers to an industrial economy that is re-productive and restorative by intention. It aims to rely on renewable energy; minimizes, tracks, and hopefully eliminates the use of toxic chemicals; and eradicates waste through careful design. The concept of the circular economy is grounded in the study of non-linear, particularly living systems http://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/circular-economy/circular-economy/the-circular-model-an-overview
This worldview is based or inspired by Michael Braungart’s work (2002), who argued that waste does not exist. This non-linear view envisions the world as one integrated system where reproduction is key. This “Systems thinking” contrasts the more linear approach that considers the world as an source of income. The world is like a piece of machinery, consisting of useful parts: to be taken apart or put together. Combined or used separately. Yet all is geared towards utilization, production and generating wealth.
These two views do not necessarily conflict by the way. There is increased recognition that our planetary resources are finite and this awareness is also increasingly matched by the realization that we need to become more creative, show more versatility, adaptability and enhance levels of technological innovation in order to maintain levels of ownership and wealth. In other words: people in power are using the concept of the circular economy to reframe wealth and ownership across the world without any intention of redistributing that wealth more evenly. Reasons may be politics, resources or wages but the necessity to adapt to stay in business has become the ultimate dictator of most corporations’ modus operandi. Even the most old-fashioned, ego-driven macho CEO will be happy to green his strategic intent when his balanced scorecard will be subject to shareholders’ approval. As long as greed is the key driver of most businesses, the circular concept is not the panacea that Braungart’s followers want us to believe. I am interested in your view.