Circular economy

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What is circular economy?

Circular economy is a new production and consumption model that ensures sustainable growth over time. With the circular economy, we can drive the optimization of resources, reduce the consumption of raw materials, and recover waste by recycling or giving it a second life as a new product.

The aim of the circular economy is therefore to make the most of the material resources available to us by applying three basic principles: reduce, reuse and recycle. In this way, the life cycle of products is extended, waste is used and a more efficient and sustainable production model is established over time. The idea arises from imitating nature, where everything has value and everything is used, where waste becomes a new resource. In this way, the balance between progress and sustainability is maintained.

Gráfico economía lineal y circular

What is the difference between the circular economy and the linear economy?

Until now we have lived with linear production models, in other words, we extract, produce, consume and discard. The society in which we live means that the pace of consumption is accelerating, a model that is fast but unsustainable for the planet.

The circular economy establishes a more sustainable model of production and consumption, in which raw materials are kept longer in production cycles and can be used repeatedly, thereby generating much less waste. As its name suggests, the essence of this model is that resources are kept in the economy for as long as possible, facilitating the waste we generate to be used as raw material for other industries.


What are the principles of the circular economy?


Most of us are familiar with the 3R rule, which is essential for sustainable development and preserving the environmental balance: reduce, reuse, and recycle. 

In other words, what is obtained from nature returns to it when its lifecycle is over in a cyclical and environmentally friendly way. But, did you know that there are four other rules? These 7Rs are the necessary steps to achieve a circular economy:

  • Redesign: Thinking and designing products so that their manufacturing process consumes fewer raw materials, extends their lifecycle, and generates less waste (or at least waste that is easier to recycle). This increases environmental protection.
  • Reduce: Change our consumption habits towards a more sustainable model. If we reduce consumption, we avoid the generation of waste, the use of raw materials, and therefore reduce the impact on the environment.
  • Reuse: Reusing or repurposing products to extend their lifecycle.
  • Repair: Until now, when a product broke down, we tended to replace it. However, repairing it is not only cheaper, but also avoids the use of new raw materials, saves energy, and does not generate environmental waste.
  • Renovate: Update old objects so that they can be reused as vintage, e.g. furniture.
  • Recycle: Promote best practices in waste management and use what you can as raw material to manufacture new products.
  • Recover: Give new uses to products that are going to be discarded, for example, using plastic bottles to create watering systems, flower pots, or bird feeders.
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At the Repsol Technology Lab, we place technology at the service of the circular economy