The Circular Economy is Circular, Stupid!
It was trying to distinguish between a linear economy and a circular economy by adding the ‘3 Rs’ to the linear economy. It’s not the first time I’ve seen the circular economy drawn as a straight line – and it’s a really stupid way of illustrating the difference for a number of reasons:
1. It still looks like the linear economy at first glance;
2. Figure 2 is actually the way our economy is at the minute – linear + 3Rs – so no-one would notice the difference between that diagram and the status quo;
3. Psychologically, it doesn’t get across the most important difference between the two. In a circular economy, pre-used material is more desirable than virgin material.
If you draw the circular economy as a circle – see below – it changes the whole way we look at materials. In particular we see the loop as producing quality raw materials at a competitive price, not as a form of waste diversion (3Rs). Yes, you could add in other loops and some minor leakage/input, but the core circle is a very powerful metaphor in our minds and we need to emphasise it.
So let’s draw the circular economy as a circle. The clue is in the name.