Project brief on the Circular Economy: Choosing a topic
This project brief introduces the concept of the circular economy and contrasts it to the traditional linear economy. The linear economy model is based on ‘take-make-consume-waste’ approach to using resources. The raw material is transformed into a product and after it ends its life cycle becomes waste. The transition from a linear to a circular economy goes through the reuse economy approach. Raw materials are transformed into a product that is recycled and becomes (or becomes part of) a new product, thus reducing waste, and contributes to environmental sustainability.
The concept of a circular economy has gained importance as a way of developing a holistic, system-wide approach to the issue of waste, recycling and sustainable development. It encompasses much more than just recycling by addressing the entire lifecycle of products. Suppliers, designers, manufacturers, investors, traders, miners, consumers, policy makers and others will all have a role to play. Developing a circular economy requires a multidisciplinary and multi-country approach.
Engineers Australia indicate that a circular economy is an alternative to a traditional linear economy (make, use, dispose) in which we keep resources in use for as long as possible, extract the maximum value from them whilst in use, then recover and regenerate products and materials at the end of each service life (Refer to Figure 1 below).
Figure 1 – Description of the circular economy
CSIRO emphasise that “by maximising resource utility and incorporating the concept of circularity during production and consumption (i.e. not just focused on waste management), the circular economy boosts entire economies. For Australia, where currently the value of its natural resources lies only in the raw, unprocessed state, a circular economy is critical in ensuring future prosperity and economic security”.
These readings, websites and videos provide additional background on the circular economy:
3. Read: .
Your group needs to research and develop a response on how circular economy concepts can contribute to sustainability. Your response will be done within the requirements of your group project in the unit that includes three assessment components (please see the VUC space for more details).
This requires you to do a literature review from publicly available information on a topic of your choice within the circular economy concept. You also need to identify practical case studies and examples that are currently being employed in the circular economy. Begin by going through the starting resources provided above, and then do original research through publicly available information.
Your choice of topic needs to focus on a product that can be recycled in a country, and applies knowledge that you have gained so far in the course that you have enrolled and the units that you have completed so far. Once your group has decided on a suitable topic encompassing these elements, consult with and get approval from your Unit Facilitator.
In finalising your topic, please note the following guidelines:
Choose a country, region, or city of your choice
Choose an area, in consultation with your Unit Facilitator, that you would like to focus on based your discipline area and the units that you have completed so far in your Master’s course.
The area that you choose may include one of the following:
Technology and innovation, such as the use of existing and innovative technologies to facilitate the processing and recycling of waste, and identification of challenges to the adoption and scalability of innovative solutions
Economics and finance, such as the benefits and barriers to the adoption of circular economy solutions compared to traditional economy concepts, examples of economic and financial strategies and models adopted for the circular economy
Policy and regulations, such as providing circular economy best-practice examples of policy frameworks and existing regulations, and policies to ensure that environmental concerns are met while processing waste
Existing and new business models, such as examples of business models that promote the circular use of resources, incentives required to promote circular concepts throughout the lifecycle of products, and how businesses can embed circular economy concepts throughout their supply chains
Marketing and communication, such as identifying stakeholders involved, challenges to overcome resistance to the implementation of circular economy concepts, market research required among stakeholders, communication messages, and examples of best-practice that are currently being implemented
3. Choose a product that your group believes is important to recycle in your chosen country, such as electronic waste (e-waste), or plastics, and
4. Finalise your applied business project.