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Know Your Climate Talk: What is a Circular Economy?

Updated: Jul 3, 2023

In a series of articles exploring environmental buzzwords and scientific terms, we break down in a nutshell how these terms relate to sustainable living. In the first article, lifestyle editor, Megan breaks down the “circular economy” a term used on the BBC’s recent documentary “War on Plastic”.


A model that is being increasingly associated with a sustainable future is that of the circular economy. If you’ve been watching “War on Plastic” on the BBC, the circular economy was a proposed model for the economy to reduce, reuse and recycle. A circular economy challenges the notion of what is called a ‘linear economy’ which focuses on manufacturing and consumption rather than reducing environmental impacts and recycling materials back into the system.

So in a nutshell, the circular economy reduces the amount of inputs (these could be our precious resources) and promotes recycling and the use of ethical materials. But what makes this so different to any other economic models? The circular economy works with the basis of economic growth, social factors and the environment all regarded on even footing. By reducing and reusing waste the circular economy model isn’t based on production and profit solely, it’s making use of the materials already in the system to create a more sustainable society.

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Reduce, reuse and recycle

The circular economy theory isn’t a new idea, but as it becomes increasingly required to integrate economics and our environment it seems a good place to start. Of course there are limitations as to how successful this type of economy really is in practice, with some scientists noting that many economies such as EU countries already adopt the circular economy theory, whilst in practice environmental impacts are still largely a second thought to economic growth.

About the Author: Megan Tarbuck is the Lifestyle Editor for WILD Mag, she studies Human Geography and the Environment at York.

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