What is Circular Economy?
Circular economy refers to a model in which economic growth does not go hand in hand with the exploitation and consumption of natural, non-renewable resources.
The aim of a circular economy is the resource-efficient and sustainable use of natural resources, their reuse and recycling within a circulatory system and the prevention of waste. The implementation of a circular economy should not be in conflict with economic interests.
The latter are served by the fact that in the system of circular economy companies generate an additional value from the materials used and the reduction of procurement risks in the form of material costs, price volatilities and supply bottlenecks.
Unlike the linear economy, ecology and economy are not in competition with each other in the circular economy.
"Take - Make - Throw away" vs. "Reusing, Repairing, Recycling". Two conflicting concepts with different impacts on the consumption of resources and pressures on the environment.
In the linear economy resources and raw materials are extracted, processed and usually used for a specific purpose. At the end of life the products are disposed of in the landfill or thermally recycled. Linear economy is therefore often referred to as a "disposable economy".
In a circular economy resources are kept in a circulatory system over the longest possible use phase. The materials are often used for several purposes and returned again and again in the recycling cycle. The ecological advantage of the circular economy is that it produces less waste and minimizes the extraction of fossil resources.
Material Cricularity Indicator (MCI)
The Material Circularity Indicator (MCI) represents the degree of the material flow's circulatory on a scale of 0 to 1. The higher the score, the more recyclable or circular the product.
The MCI can be a decision-making tool for product designers and buyers to select materials, use it for reporting or to evaluate companies. The assumption here is that the circularity of a company is made up of the individual material circularities of its products.
MCI = 1
To get a result of 1, all the raw materials used would have to come from reused components or recycled materials, without any loss in recycling (100% recycling efficiency). Any waste generated during the production and end of life of the product would also have to be reused or recycled without any loss ("zero waste").
MCI = 0,1
A product with completely linear material flows, where all raw materials come from virgin material and no waste is reused or recycled at all, is valued at 0.1. To achieve a value below 0.1, the benefit of the product would have to be lower than that of an average industrial product (i.e., the product would have to have a shorter life or lower intensity of use). A product with completely linear material flows but with a higher utility than an average industrial product would have an MCI > 0.1.