Go from a throw away culture to a circular economy

Most of us are part of the throw-away economy, whether we want to admit it or not. Also called the linear economy, the focus is on producing, using, and throwing it away. The linear economy leads to wasted materials and items, overflowing landfills, and takes a huge toll on the climate.  On the other hand, […]

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Most of us are part of the throw-away economy, whether we want to admit it or not. Also called the linear economy, the focus is on producing, using, and throwing it away. The linear economy leads to wasted materials and items, overflowing landfills, and takes a huge toll on the climate. 

On the other hand, the circular economy can be a better choice for us and the environment. 

What is a circular economy

A circular economy is one that focuses on the way items are produced, consumed, and disposed of at the end of the life cycle. It’s about ensuring everything lasts as long as possible rather than buying a new replacement. The circular economy also ensures that materials used in the production of products and services are reused and repaired as much as possible and recycled when worn out. The circular economy is all about being environmentally focused and keeping materials and items out of the landfill. 

The circular economy is the complete opposite of the linear economy. With the circular economy, care is taken to ensure all aspects of the supply chain are sustainable, as well as the production, use, and end of life for each product and service. 

The circular economy creates a loop where everything is sustainability created, used, and reused/repaired/recycled. This allows for reductions in carbon emissions while ensuring all materials are effectively utilised. 

Studies have shown that a circular economy can reduce global carbon emissions by as much as 39%. This is a huge difference and can be a beneficial system for the UK’s goals of achieving net zero. 

Reuse, repair, & recycle

The circular economy concept is a huge change from the linear economy we’ve used for decades. With a new concept, there’s a chance for new ideas to develop on how to make our materials last and avoid wasting or exploiting the world’s natural resources. 

With the adoption of the circular economy, we have the chance to find new ways to reuse, repair, refurbish, and recycle materials in every area of production, distribution, and disposal of products and services. The circular economy means designing products and services with their end of life in focus. We need to create products and services that last for long periods, focusing on their sustainable end of life so that their various parts can be reused and repurposed at the end of life. 

Several companies across the globe are already using the circular economy, including in the UK. But it’s not always easy for a business to change to a circular economy. However, they can make the process easier by asking themselves these questions: 

  • Can a business provide a take-back service for used products? 
  • Can products be distributed in environmentally friendly packaging? 
  • Where are the product’s raw materials coming from? Can these be sourced from recycled or sustainable materials? 

When a company begins by asking these questions, they soon find they’re able to convert to a circular economy and even help their clients and customers to do the same. 

Circular Economy Examples in the UK

We’ve created a list of circular economy examples that you can find right here, in the UK! 

Hej Coffee

The company once used plastic packaging for its coffee subscriptions. However, today, they have launched an initiative called Hej Round, where they eliminate single-use plastic by delivering coffee to their wholesale clients in reusable containers. 

Draught Drop

Draught Drop offers one of London’s draught beer subscription services that provides customers in East London with fresh-poured IPAS, pale ales, and lagers from a selection of local breweries. 

Each week, they deliver 3.3 pints of their “Beer of the Week” by bike in a growler that can be easily rinsed out and turned in when the customer’s next delivery arrives. 


Anyone who loves curry usually ends up with a bin filled with single-use plastic containers from takeaway. However, DabbaDrop is changing this problem. 

Dabbadrop delivers its South Asian food right to the customer’s door in steel “dabba” contains. These containers are picked up the next time the customer orders. 


Parents with kids know that many of their children’s toys are made of plastic. What happens when the kids no longer play with these toys? Some may be passed on to friends and relatives; however, many end up in the landfill. However, Whirli is making a huge change to the linear economy of kids’ toys. 

Whirli makes it easy for parents to buy toys, allowing the toys to be borrowed and kept for as long as they’re used. Then the toys are sent back and swapped out with new toys or bought permanently at a lower price. 

What could be better than toys that keep bringing joy to children rather than being tossed in the trash? 

As you can see, each of these unique companies has found a way to create a circular economy for products that would normally be thrown into the landfill. Each business has created a unique solution for their industry that’s successful and sustainable. This is the creativity that’s needed in every organisation to keep our landfills from overflowing and to gain more use from products and services that can still provide value. 

How to introduce the circular economy at home

Is it possible to introduce the circular economy at home? Yes, it’s possible! Using the principles of the circular economy, it’s possible to make your home life more sustainable and even save money in the process. Think about your daily life and how you may be able to reduce, reuse, repair, refurbish, and recycle. You’ll find ways to make sustainable choices every day in all areas of life. These choices are essential for the UK to reach net zero by 2050 and lower your carbon footprint at the same time. 

Changing over to the circular economy will be new in the beginning. However, you’ll develop a completely new way to consider all the things you buy and use. You and your family can come up with creative ways to keep your belongings in use for as long as possible. That means taking care of your things, ensuring they are repaired and used as much as possible before reusing or recycling them. 

For instance, rather than throwing away used things, why not consider asking these questions:  

  • Can these pants be up-cycled or repaired? 
  • Can these plastic containers be reused or repurposed? Is it possible to recycle them rather than throw them in the trash? 
  • Can you buy things second-hand rather than buying new items when you’re updating your wardrobe? 
  • Can you borrow or rent a tool you need rather than buying your own? 

Summing it up

Making the change to a circular economy can work for both businesses and individuals. It just takes some time and effort to develop ways to reuse, refurbish, repair, and recycle used products and services. 

With a little thought and consideration, your business and family can cut expenses and your carbon footprint to help our planet’s environment.

What is the business case for sustainability?

Thursday 21 February 2024, 1:00-2:00 PM

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