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Benefits of a Circular Economy

September 1, 2022

Benefits of a Circular Economy

There is an increasing need to address the constant extraction of resources from the Earth without regard for consequences such as their exhaustion. The circular economy is one of the main ideas put forward as a possible solution to the problem to create a cleaner environment and more sustainable economy.

The following article will address:

  • What is a circular economy?
  • Opportunities of a circular economy.
  • Maximizing the benefits of the circular economy.

What is a circular economy?

A circular economy is a concept that encourages producers and consumers to reuse, recycle, and repurpose materials into valuable end products. Unlike the linear economy that extracts raw materials from the Earth, creates products, and dumps them after use, a circular economy incentivises people to find innovative ways of preventing said materials from becoming waste.

The concept is applicable in all the major sectors, including extraction industries like oil production, manufacturing industries like garment and electronics production, and the agricultural industry.

It provides a pathway for sectors to streamline and monitor production processes, influence consumer habits, create employment, and protect the environment.

Opportunities of a circular economy

Adoption of a circular economy can have numerous benefits for society and the environment. The primary opportunities include:

Preserve finite resources

Human society and the economy are built around a culture of ceaseless extraction and consumption of Earth’s resources. However, most resources like water, minerals such as oil and metals are finite, meaning such trends are unsustainable.

By implementing a circular economy, you can help the world move away from said culture and use finite resources more responsibly. The concept revolves around shifting away from the use-and-discard culture and instead encouraging the reuse, recycling, and repurposing of natural resources.

For example, the textile industry can abandon the fast fashion model that produces cheap and nondurable clothes to make more durable clothing that can be resold in the second-hand clothes market. Moreover, the automobile and aviation industries can recycle more components from old vehicles and retired planes, respectively, when manufacturing newer models.

Ultimately, through a circular economy, people can find new uses for existing extracted resources, thus preventing unnecessary extraction of more resources from the Earth.

Reduce waste

A significant disadvantage of the use-and-discard culture is the generation of massive quantities of waste. Current disposal systems expect such waste to end up in landfills; however, a lot of it ends up in oceans, lakes, and rivers.

Previous environmental concepts focused only on lowering consumption as a way of reducing waste. However, the consumption-based economy cannot support such models. Therefore, we should instead consider the circular economy benefits.

A circular economy shifts focus from reducing consumption to addressing production issues. It encourages manufacturers to make sustainable products they can reuse in their manufacturing processes, preventing objects like packaging materials from ending up in landfills and the ecosystem.

Consequently, one ultimate goal of a circular economy is creating a zero-waste economy.

Reduce emissions

The manufacturing and agricultural sectors generate a considerable amount of greenhouse gasses, contributing to air pollution and climate change. However, circular economy approaches can help streamline processes in such sectors to guarantee less carbon emission production.

For example, as the global population grew, the agricultural sector focused on increasing food production, which meant relying on more synthetic fertilizers produced using fossil fuels.

However, the circular economy will shift focus towards preventing food loss in fields and the supply chain, negating the need to use more fertilizers and clearing forests to avail more land for agriculture.

In addition, circular economy strategies help the plastics industry reduce fossil fuel consumption by encouraging using recycled products as raw materials. Overall, having a circular economy means reducing the release of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere, slowing down the climate change process.

Promote health and protect plants and animals

Pollution leads to the death of millions of people in the world. For instance, air pollution increases the chances of respiratory diseases, water pollution causes water-borne diseases, and soil pollution reduces productivity, contributing to famine and hunger. Moreover, they cause the loss of plants and animals critical to the food chain.

The circular economy benefits can contribute to a healthier society and environment by promoting proper land use and protecting water sources. For example, it creates initiatives that boost the collection, recycling, and reuse of plastics, preventing them from ending up in landfills or open burn pits that release toxic fumes into the atmosphere.

It also prevents plastics from ending up in water bodies, where they break up into microplastics that cause poisoning in fish and birds when ingested. Adopting a circular economy will encourage innovations that responsibly handle all forms of materials that can impact human health and the ecosystem.

Economic growth

Use-and-discard culture has numerous disadvantages to the economy. The pollution it causes leads to unnecessary diseases in the population that increase healthcare costs for individuals and governments. The culture also contributes to climate change, causing more intense natural disasters that in turn cause billions of dollars worth of damage annually.

On the other hand, a circular economy will contribute to economic growth by supporting innovations and inventions, creating higher-value and safer jobs, and helping reduce waste.

For instance, reducing pollution lowers the prevalence of diseases and healthcare costs which allows individuals, corporations, and governments to free-up funds for investment in other sectors.

A circular economy will also help mitigate climate change by lowering emissions, thus reducing the need to allocate considerable funds towards aid and reconstruction efforts.    

Maximizing the impact of the circular economy

Producers and manufacturers can maximize the impact of the circular economy by making durable products using recyclable and reusable materials. Most plastics produced are single-use; thus, they have a minimal value which discourages recycling.

However, producing durable plastics promotes reuse and ensures the products retain value, encouraging producers to recycle.

The plastic credit system also provides an opportunity to expand the circular economy. It allows corporations and individuals to offer monetary support to organizations like our teams at Second Life that work towards removing plastics from the ecosystem.

Such organizations direct the money to plastic removal services in underserved communities like high-density population areas and provide a living wage to workers.


The linear economy can become devastating to the ecosystem and even destroy the livelihoods of millions, worldwide. Therefore, there is an urgency to shift focus towards a system that encourages accepting the finite nature of Earth’s resources.

At Second Life, we help develop projects that support plastics collection and recycling efforts, especially in neglected communities, and support the livelihoods of vulnerable individuals. You can learn about how your organization can contribute to a more circular economy by contacting our team.