Skip main navigation

A circular economy

What is a circular economy? This article discusses the dimensions of a circular economy and closed loop systems.
© International Culinary Studio

You will recall we discussed the three dimensions of sustainability; social, environmental, economic. These are often referred to in business as People, Planet, Profit; or the triple bottom line.


A circular economy (also referred to as “circularity”) is an economic system aimed at eliminating waste and the continual use of resources. Circular systems employ reuse, share, repair, refurbish, re-manufacture and recycle to create a closed-loop system, minimizing the use of resource inputs and the creation of waste, pollution, and carbon emissions (Wikipedia).

A circular economy example

La Vie Restaurant is situated in the Rhone Valley in France. Chef Étienne is passionate about sustainably and has built excellent relationships with local food suppliers, visiting them regularly.

The milk and cheese come from the local dairy that uses traditional farming methods. They deliver milk in glass bottles daily, returned, and then resterilized before resupplying. He sources meat from a local farmer with pasture-fed cattle and pork from a local pig farmer. Local fishermen supply fresh fish daily, and a select wine list showcases wine from the area. The restaurant regularly promotes nearby farms that provide products, and customers love having the opportunity to visit the farms.

The restaurant has an entire recycling area; the pig farmer removes the wet waste to feed his pigs. If not removed by the supplier, the dry waste is separated at source and managed by a local recycling company. Oil is taken by a company that turns it into biofuel. Their bokashi turns any left-over wet waste into organic fertilizer for their vegetable garden.

To reduce their reliance on electricity, the restaurant has added some solar panels, and water is piped into the restaurant’s hot and cold-water system from an onsite borehole.

The restaurant only employs staff from the area, giving guests a truly local experience and garnering community support. Community is focal, so every week, the team spends a day cooking and serving a meal at a local Home of the Aged and schools are invited to help in the vegetable garden and are taught how to look after their environment.


There are many beneficiaries and this entire chain. Would you classify this as a closed-loop system and why / why not? Who has benefited from the restaurant? How has the restaurant benefited?

© International Culinary Studio
This article is from the free online

Introduction to Sustainable Practices in Food Service

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education