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The circular economy cycle

A description of the circular economy cycle, following Prieto-Sandoval et al. (2018),
Let’s take a closer look at how the circular economy works. The circular economy cycle illustrates the basic idea behind the circular economy. Let’s have a look at how this cycle works.

The circular economy cycle illustrates how circular economy functions

Circular economy cycle (Prieto-Sandoval et al. 2018).

The circular economy (CE) is often visualized as a cycle with five stages: (1) the extraction (e.g. mining and harvesting) and (2) transformation of resources and (3) the distribution, (4) use and (5) recovery of goods and materials:

  • At the first stage, firms take resources such as minerals, fossil fuels, or timber. Next, the raw materials taken from the environment are transformed into finished products and services.
  • Then, the products or services are distributed to consumers (households or businesses) at various sale points, and the products and services are used by consumers.
  • At this point, the circular economy proposes to close the loop through the recovery (i.e. renovating, enriching and recycling of goods). Thus, the circular economy stresses the importance of enriching used materials rather than simply wasting them.
Source: Prieto-Sandoval, V., Jaca, C. & Ormazabal, M. (2018). Towards a consensus on the circular economy. Journal of Cleaner Production 179, pp. 605–615.

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Energy Transition and Sustainable Economies

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