Circular Economy – Running in Circles or Closing the Loop?

Falling Walls Circle Tables are lending the spotlight to world-leading scientists, science strategists and policy-makers from academia, business and politics discuss how we can apply science, research and innovation to get the world moving again.

Transitioning the economy from linear to a circular economy requires reimagining fundamental global systems. But as the panel in this Falling Walls Circle Table discussed, there is now unprecedented momentum and motivation to achieve this worldwide shift.

Establishing a circular economy presents a huge challenge, not least because the linear economy has – in many ways – proven hugely successful. Products can be produced at low cost today, and plastics appear in all aspects of our lives. However these low prices come with a cost, as resources are depleted and plastic pollution reaches even remote areas.

Building a circular economy that reuses its products while protecting the natural world requires huge technological innovation, from new materials to new ways to reuse materials. While ideas can take decades to get from the lab to everyday life, solutions are needed tomorrow. Business and political leaders can push for these changes, but shifting public attitudes can also drive the transition. As Jacob Duer pointed out, “there’s no citizen, no community, no country, no company that can solve this problem alone.”