Transition to a circular economy requires new targets

“For the transition to a circular economy we need to be fast but also rigorous and focused”, says PhD researcher Piero Morseletto, affiliated with the Environmental Policy Analysis department of the Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM) at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Morseletto published two articles on circular economy in Resources, Conservation & Recycling and The Journal for Industrial Ecology.

03/03/2020 | 4:05 PM

A circular economy is an economy model aimed at reducing the use of resources, combating waste and at the same time focusing on value retention and a longer lifespan of materials, products and parts. Piero Morseletto: “The environmental and climate crisis in which the world finds itself forces us to quickly switch to more sustainable economic models. The circular economy may be a viable way to reduce the negative impact of producers and consumers on the environment. "

Recycling as last resort
The transition to a circular economy requires actions and new policies. At present, however, few targets have been set for the circular economy; most targets relate to recycling. "I am not against recycling - especially when the product has reached the end of its life - but I advocate that we consider recycling as a last resort strategy. Recycling destroys a product for good and the recycled material is always of lesser quality than the original product, "says Morseletto.

Better strategies
The last resort strategy means that we prefer other strategies. An example of this is reuse (instead of throwing away), repair if something is broken or refurbish if a product is old. In the article Targets for a circulair economy, Morseletto formulates an extensive set of new goals that relate to these strategies. "In short, it comes down to reducing waste to the minimum and give preference to better strategies such as rethinking, reducing, reusing, repairing and refurbishing instead of recycling," says Morseletto.

Concept study
In another literature study, Morseletto discovered that it is not always clear how we should interpret the concepts used in the circular economy. In the article Restorative and regenerative: Exploring the concepts in the circular economy, Morseletto examines these different concepts. Morseletto: "We often come across the terms ‘restorative’ and ‘regenerative’ in the literature on circular economy. However, the terms are not used consistently." Morseletto concludes that restoration is better defined in the literature and is therefore more suitable than regeneration as a core principle of the circular economy.