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Circular economy: definition and benefits  

The European Union produces more than 2.5 billion tons of waste annually. EU waste management legislation is now being updated to encourage the transition from a linear to a circular economy. In March 2020, the European Commission presented a circular economy action plan. It contains proposals for more sustainable product design and aims to reduce waste and strengthen consumer protection, for example with the help of a real "right to repair". The action plan is one of the most important building blocks of the European Green Deal and part of the new EU industrial strategy. The focus is on resource-intensive sectors such as electronics and ICT, plastics, textiles and construction.

But what does circular economy actually mean? Why is a paradigm shift necessary and what are the advantages?

What is circular economy?

The circular economy is a model of production and consumption in which existing materials and products are shared, leased, reused, repaired, refurbished and recycled for as long as possible. In this way, the Product life cycle extended.

In practice this means that Waste reduced to a minimum become. After a product has reached the end of its life, the resources and materials remain in the economy as much as possible. So they are used again and again productively in order to continue to add value to generate.

The circular economy is in contrast to traditional, linear economic model ("throwaway economy"). This model relies on large amounts of cheap, easily accessible materials and energy. "Planned obsolescence" is another characteristic. The European Parliament calls for measures to prevent devices from breaking prematurely.