Is 'circular' really just a bit less linear?

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates

This is a complement to my post the other day.  The title question is not mine but one recently asked by Ronald Rovers in three blogs:




This is how the first begins:

"Circular is “hot”.  But the interpretation of ‘circular’ is crippled.  As I can conclude after reading some recent reports on the topic.  For sure when its coupled to economy, its more about business as about closing cycles or circularity.  And money as a reference, is a artificial measuring unit, in its current form designed for making more money, create growth, and not designed to reduce emissions, or less resource use. Its no wonder that the motor behind circular economy is the MacArthur foundation, financed by many commercial multinationals.  Unfortunately many international reports take the MacArthur approach for granted and use these as starting points{1,2,3].  Even governments and their advisory institutes.  That's worrying, at the least.

Circular as a result is not well defined, and is stuck to some adaptations of the linear process.

Let me try to specify this.   To start with where we came from: A paradise world without people. After billions of years there is a balance in what the earth generates, driven by solar energy, and what all species, plants and animals consume.  The resource flow of resources, food water energy, materials are constant, they are balanced.  Next thing mankind turns up.  Until the industrial revolution, mankind , with max 2 billion people, adapts to the flows as all the other species.  The balance remains.  At some moments things tend to go wrong, but the system corrects this, cultures die out, plagues interfere, dirty cities create many deaths, and the system restarts.  Flows are used, and wasted, but at a speed that the system can handle, like waste water from cities flowing to the seas , cleaned up and via rain replenishing the system.  The same for food: its grown, eaten and defecated, and in may cultures used again as nutrients.  In some regions in China you were supposed, after having dinner at someones place, to not leave until going to the toilet, to leave the nutrients behind. ..."

The second post starts:

"Circular, is about closing cycles, isn’t it?  So its restoring the original stock.  Otherwise its depleted, and we run out of stock.  Yes?  But thats precisely what is kept silent in the circular economy approach.  No wonder, since its quit disrupting. But its by no means circular what is advocated so far.  Which does not say its wrong what is done under circular economy, but its not circular, thats misleading. Its linear slow down. As argued previously.  What happens is not closing the cycle, but slow down degradation of of resources in its way to equilibrium, diluted in the environment. Since thats the natural Faith of all resources. (unless substantial energy is added, but thats for later)

It only becomes circular is you take responsibility for restoring the original stock.  Closing the cycles, so that future generations have the same options, and do not have to live from our waste.  And since the future will be even more people as now…"

And the third:

"So how could you do that, restoring minerals or metals?"

This is challenging stuff for those who think (and teach) that a circular economy is the way forward for 9 billion people.  I'll be watching how this debate develops.

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates


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