Circular economy

The circular economy has two key interrelated features – retaining resources in the economy for as long as possible and reducing waste. The circular economy challenges traditional linear models of consumption where products are designed, manufactured, consumedand then discarded. Rethinking this way of doing things is only possible if all those involved in the consumption chain work together. Designers and manufacturers must come up with ways of incorporating recycled materials into new products. Consumers must be self-aware and open to new modes of consumption, for example, leasing products they have previously been used to owning. The way products at their end-of-life stage are dealt with must also be open to scrutiny, scientific enquiry and, in some cases, complete overhaul.

The cases presented here contribute to the circular economy in different ways. Some facilitate the recycling process, cooperating with other actors to collect end of life products and ensure recycled materials are put to new uses (e.g. Case 5. An ambitious approach to textile recycling in Turku; Case 10. Starting from scrap in Øra). Others demonstrate how a single resource can circle through the economy in a more effective way (e.g. Case 2. Water circulation in South West Finland). By far the biggest contribution to this section is made by cases that demonstrate what is commonly known as industrial symbiosis (e.g. Case 1. Reykjanes Geothermal Resource Park; Case 3. Kalundborg Industrial Symbiosis; Case 8. An ecosystem of Arctic industries in Kemi-Tornio). Industrial symbiosis involves collaboration between multiple actors in order to exchange resources (i.e. by-products that would otherwise become waste) that can be used as a substitute for commercial products or raw materials. In other words, in industrial symbiosis a waste or by-product of one actor becomes a resource for another actor. The dominance of these types of case studies in this section highlights the vital role of cooperation in moving towards a circular economy.     

All circular economy cases: