Circular Economy - An economic opportunity worth billions

Cutting down waste as well as recycling waste from the manufacturing chain by reusing resources and materials to the best extent possible ensures huge savings in production and dependence on resources.

Beyond just cost savings, the advantages of a circular economy are far beyond operational. It is strategic and not from an industry perspective alone. It serves the interests of not just the industry but also benefits society and consumers driving efficiency and innovation across the system.

Businesses can gain extensive material savings, and manage risks that arise due to volatility and supply. It pushes the pedal for employment and innovation while also creating an impact on land utilization, soil, ambient air quality, and overall economic resilience. Some benefits to be considered.

Designing products with ‘no-waste’

A high priority in a circular economy is laid on creating products with very low waste. Current design models are planned with a tolerant level of waste with a focus on short-term profitability vis-à-vis long-term sustainability. Climate change patterns have dawned on the fact that waste must be thought of as a flaw in product design.

A product design with a low- or no-waste approach can also radically lower harmful byproducts or turn useful byproducts or waste into business propositions. This is an interesting case of how a cheesemaker can create vodka from leftover whey.

Enhancing Renewable Resources

The primary source of power and energy around the globe is fossil fuels. This is in spite of accounting for nearly 3.6 million deaths in 2015 and about 125% more costly over a two-decade period. Circular business models work to reduce the usage of fossil fuels and drive the usage of economical and environmentally friendly renewable energy.

A ‘circular’ approach to managing end-of-life components of renewable energy components such as solar photovoltaic modules, wind blades, and batteries can lower future wastage of critical raw materials required for India’s clean energy transition phase. Currently, India has already developed a capacity of 100 gigawatts in installed renewable energy infrastructure.

Circular models can renew resources through techniques like circular agriculture that focus on reduced material and chemical consumption as well as working with the seasons and not against them.

Mitigation of price volatility and supply risks.

The McKinsey iron ore cost curve, in collaboration with McKinsey and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation Circular Economy team, revealed that net materials savings would result in lowering the cost curve for various raw materials. For steel, the global net materials savings could add up to more than 100 million tons of iron ore in 2025 if applied to a sizeable share of the materials flows especially for automotive, precision machining, transport, and other steel-intensive sectors.


The aspiration to replace one-way products with goods that are ‘circular by design’ and create reverse logistics networks and other systems to support the circular economy is a powerful spur to new ideas. Adopting more circular business models would bring significant benefits, including improved innovation across the economy [Figure 7]. It is already proving a vibrant terrain for entrepreneurs who target the benefits of an economy that operates with higher rates of technological development; improved materials, labour, and energy efficiency, and more profit opportunities for resource-productive companies.

Job creation potential.

The transition to a circular economy can have a significant impact on job creation. A circular economy is an economic system that seeks to eliminate waste and promote the sustainable use of resources by keeping products, components, and materials in use for as long as possible.

New business models: The circular economy requires new business models, such as repair and refurbishment, product-as-a-service, and waste management. These new business models can create new jobs in areas such as design, engineering, and logistics.

Remanufacturing: Remanufacturing is the process of taking used products and components and refurbishing them to a like-new condition. This process can create jobs in areas such as manufacturing, engineering, and quality control.

Recycling and waste management: In a circular economy, waste is seen as a resource. Recycling and waste management activities can create jobs in areas such as collection, sorting, and processing.

Skills development: The transition to a circular economy requires new skills and knowledge. This can create opportunities for training and education, which can lead to new jobs in areas such as research and development, consultancy, and policy-making.

Land productivity and soil health.

Reduced waste: In a circular economy, waste is minimized or eliminated, which reduces the need for landfills and other waste disposal facilities. This can free up land for other productive uses.

Recycling and repurposing: The circular economy promotes the recycling and repurposing of materials, which can reduce the need for new raw materials and the land required to extract them. This can lead to more sustainable land use practices and higher land productivity.

Organic waste management: The circular economy promotes the use of organic waste as a resource. This can lead to the production of compost, which can improve soil health and increase land productivity.

Sustainable agriculture: The circular economy promotes sustainable agriculture practices, such as regenerative agriculture and agroforestry, which can improve soil health and increase land productivity.

A circular economy would tilt the economic balance away from energy-guzzling resources and virgin extraction. It would create a new sector dedicated to reverse cycle activities for reuse, refurbishing, remanufacturing, or recycling on the technical side. The circular economy will generate benefits for stakeholders on every level—customers, businesses, and society as a whole. Urban mining is a powerful pillar of a circular economy that generates impact for society, consumers and the environment.

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