According to RECYC-QUÉBEC, “the circular economy is defined as ‘a production exchange and consumption system aiming to optimize resource use in every stage in the life cycle of a product or service through a circular approach, reduce the environmental footprint and contribute to the well-being of individuals and communities.’”
But what does that mean concretely? In practice, it’s the idea of optimizing the use of our possessions through different actions, such as pooling, sharing and exchanging with others, or reusing discarded materials to make something new, which also known as upcycling. The goal is to stop aggressively tapping into natural resources to manufacture new products and to consume less and in a better way.
Whether we’re talking about a sharing economy, collaborative economy or functional economy, they’re all based on the same principle: seeing the economy as an infinite loop of elements that are renewed, transformed, regenerated and recycled. Therefore, in this type of economy, waste isn’t seen as waste, but rather as a resource, and all efforts are made to avoid wastefulness.
This type of economy is based on many other theories, including degrowth, which is increasingly being discussed, but it also introduces new concepts like eco-design to ensure better product durability and indefinitely extend their life cycle. It makes producers more responsible. By changing our relationship to objects, this economy contributes to the surge of organizations working to encourage the exchange and sharing of goods and services, such as tool libraries, book exchange boxes, community fridges, bike and car sharing, shared workspaces and creative spaces, etc.