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The Circular Economy as the New Normal

A circular economy is not just about cycling bare economic value. It also takes into account the need for balance and social fairness and it does away with the zero sum game in 'classical' capitalism.

Our dominant economic system focuses on the creation of wealth. It is based on capitalism in combination with industrialisation. In its early form, this combination helped develop and innovate means for the production and consumption of goods and services. It also provided a means for social mobility and helped give rise to the middle class and growing social equity within the developed world. Competition, supported by modern science, has been instrumental in driving technological progress, leading to a steady increase in quality of life. The driving economic factor of competition within finite markets, however, also gave rise to latter-day developments such as the exponential concentration of disposable wealth to an increasingly small number of people. Our current system also caused the unacceptable build-up of waste and pollution. The increased call for efficiency to safeguard profitability has widened social chasms. As a result of this, society appears to be preparing for a change and shift of equilibrium, much like the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, when the social order was revolutionised and power shifted from the elite to include much broader sections of society. Then and now, perceived inequality and the wish to negate it, lie at the heart of the matter.

An extract from The Circular Economy as the New Normal by Guido Braam and Dionne Ewen, in Breakthrough: From Innovation to Impact, Volume 2.

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